BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced today the Men's Eagles Sevens team that will be traveling to Wellington, New Zealand, for the Hertz Sevens on February 1-2. Ten of the 12 players are returning from the team that finished with ten points in South Africa.
The two players added to the roster are Andrew Durutalo at prop and Blaine Scully at center. Nate Augspurger and Brett Thompson are the two players replaced.
"It's great to welcome back Andrew and Blaine, two proven players who add another dimension to our attack," Eagles Sevens Head Coach Alex Magleby said.
Prop Matt Hawkins will return and captain the side that will face Spain, England, and New Zealand in pool play.
Speedy wing Carlin Isles, leading Eagles try-scorer, will also travel to New Zealand.
The roster for the 2013 Residency Program at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. was announced earlier this month, and the spots on the squad traveling to Wellington were tightly-contested. "Competition has increased for roster spots," Magleby said. "It was good to know that, of the 16 players vying for a spot, all were very capable of doing their job at the top level."
After getting two points at the Gold Coast Sevens and five points at the Dubai Sevens, the Eagles used two wins in pool play and a Cup Quarterfinals berth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth to add 10 points to their IRB Sevens World Series total. The Eagles went winless at last year's Hertz Sevens. The Eagles, with 17 points, are ahead of fellow core teams England, Spain, and Scotland in the standings. "We are looking forward to competing again and working to improve where we left off in Port Elizabeth," Magleby said. "We are pleased with our continuing development and look forward to trying to build on that in this next round."
England and Spain are currently in the relegation zone, a new addition to this year's Series. The bottom three core teams will compete in a two-round qualifying tournament during the Hong Kong Sevens and London Sevens. Magleby knows he cannot underestimate his pool opponents, however. "It's an exciting pool," he said. "Spain had a good end to Port Elizabeth. They are aggressive at the ruck, good kick and chase, and run hard lines. They will be an exciting and tough challenge to start. "England will be fighting to turn the ship around and has most of their stars back, including top try-scorer Mat Turner."
Rounding out Pool A is New Zealand, who won the Cup in Port Elizabeth. The All Blacks have also won the past two IRB Sevens World Series. "We are looking forward to competing against the All Blacks as the last match of the evening in front of their home crowd," Magleby said. "There is a lot of parity on the circuit, and we can learn from all three of those teams. We expect difficult matches but feel we can compete in all three if we continue to chase down a better performance with more consistent execution."
The Eagles Sevens will face Spain at 9:34 P.M. Eastern Time on Thursday, January 31. Matches will air tape-delayed on Universal Sports. Follow along with live updates and scores by following USA Rugby on Twitter: @USAEaglesRugby
USA Men's Eagles Sevens | Hertz Sevens
Andrew Durutalo, Nick Edwards, Jack Halalilo, Matt Hawkins (Captain), Colin Hawley, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Blaine Scully, Shalom Suniula, Zach Test, Maka Unufe.
Eagles Schedule | Hertz Sevens
vs. Spain – 9:34 P.M. ET Thursday, January 31
vs. England – 12:30 A.M. ET Friday, February 1
vs. New Zealand – 5:55 A.M. ET Friday, February 1