By Will Dietrich-Egensteiner
The USA Men’s 7s camp is shaping up to be a true testing ground, especially for new players who are just breaking into the team. Just ask Life University’s Cam Dolan and Peter Tiberio of the University of Arizona.
|Peter Tiberio (right) during the 2011 Hong Kong 7s.|
“It’s definitely a more professional atmosphere,” Dolan said. “The players have more off-field responsibility, like watching film, icing fast and stuff like that.
“Being in the [u20] camp helped me out a little here and there, but it’s a totally different game,” Dolan added. “Little mistakes can hurt the team, you have to be mentally and physically prepared for every tournament.”
It is a lesson that Dolan will take to heart, seeing as his Life team is coming off a tough loss to California in the College Premier Division quarterfinals, performing well but losing by a score of 43-10.
“They were just the better team on the day,” he said. “We started off pretty strong but their strength and speed is just hard to counteract. We just need to play more games like that to get better. It wasn’t a close game, but a few mistakes, a couple missed tackles here and there led to their tries.”
The Running Eagles captain is a veteran on the college rugby scene, but he’s a rookie in the Eagle 7s pool and is learning as much as possible during his first assembly. Normally playing in the back-row, Dolan says that switching from 15s to 7s requires a change of mindset, especially in the tackle and at the breakdown.
“7s is such a more fast-paced game you kind of have to read and react more as opposed to 15s. You can’t take any breaks or commit too many numbers to the breakdown because that’ll leave you exposed out wide. Sometimes you can get away with it in 15s but in 7s it’s dangerous.”
While Dolan is in his first camp, Tiberio is now in his third 7s camp and traveled with the Eagles to the Hong Kong and Adelaide legs of the IRB 7s World Series. The 7s tournaments are known for drawing huge crowds and having an electric atmosphere.
“I’ve never played in front of so many people before in any sport,” Tiberio said. “In Hong Kong the atmosphere was crazy, there were so many fans there. In Adelaide there weren’t as many fans but there were a lot of American fans who came over to watch us so it was good to win the bowl in front of so many of our supporters.”
The more established players, such as Todd Clever and Paul Emerick, are helping the younger Eagles find their way amidst the competitiveness of training.
“Those are the guys I looked up to when I first started learning the game, their leadership and professionalism on and off the field is what I look up to,” Tiberio said.
Dolan echoed Tiberio’s statement, saying that when they make a mistake here and there, the more experienced players are very helpful.
The team currently sits at 10th place in the rankings with 10 points overall. Six points came from their performance in Dubai, where they lost to South Africa in the plate semifinal. The other four came from the Adelaide bowl win over Kenya.
Tiberio said that the camp is looking very sharp this time around and the players have had some really good sessions early on. He also said that with two legs of the series left, in England and Scotland, the team is looking to finish as high as eighth in the standings.
Competition for spots in the squad is competitive, with Dolan and Tiberio each hoping to make an impression and help the team wrap up the 7s World Series come June.
“I want to continue to get better, hopefully make the tour to London and Scotland and have a chance of competing,” Tiberio said.
“I want to be able to learn from all these guys who have been in the squad for a while,” Dolan said. “I’m just learning new things every practice and my goal is to make the squad for these last two legs of June.”