Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Team USA Head Coach Al Caravelli has named his squad that will be playing in the next two stops on the HSBC World Series. The stops include Hong Kong and Adelaide, Australia.
Arizona’s Peter Tiberio is the only player making his Team USA although Todd Clever makes his return to the team after being unavailable the past two years due to conflicts with his professional teams.
Technically speaking, Taylor Mokate is also making his debut. Mokate wasn’t named to the team for the last tournaments, but came on as an injury replacement in Las Vegas. Mokate played well in his game time in Las Vegas and brings power and athleticism in replacement of the injured Mark Bokhoven.
Aside from Tiberio and Clever, the squad is unchanged. Most of the players have been together for the majority of the season and the time is now for them to begin to show the promise that they have hinted at all season.
Along with the above mentioned Clever and Mokate, Team USA Captain Matt Hawkins and Zach Test round out the forwards for the USA.
In addition to the newcomer Tiberio, returning in the backs are Marco Barnard, Paul Emerick, Shalom Suniula, Miles Craigwell, Justin Boyd, Colin Hawley, and Roland Suniula.
Shalom Suniula’s health will be an area to watch for Team USA. Suniula played through injury the last two tournaments and in return played minumal minutes for the USA. Caravelli needs a fully healthy Suniula to run the offense and create opportunities.
Emerick is another returning player that may see more minutes as he gets back into the swing of sevens. Emerick carried the team at times in Las Vegas and provided a spark every time he was on the field. The USA needs more of that if they are to make any noise in Hong Kong and Adelaide.
Team USA now travels to Hong Kong to play in the world famous Hong Kong 7’s. The tournament will play March 25-27th. The USA is in a pool with England, Japan, and China.
The most favorable pairing the USA has had this season, the team still has their work cut out for them if they want to reach the Cup Round. They will need to defeat both Japan and China by solid to wide margins and keep things against England close.
Hong Kong plays with an extended field of 24 teams, so the 2nd place finisher in each pool is not guaranteed and automatic trip to the quarterfinals. After the six pool winners, the final two spots are decided based on points difference.