Eagles are World Series Tournament Champs
The USA Eagles sevens rugby team, led by Dartmouth’s Madison Hughes, defeated Australia Sunday at the Marriott London Sevens Cup Final to claim their first-ever World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series championship.
The Eagles dominated the Aussies on the Twickenham pitch before a sellout crowd, with Hughes, Danny Barrett (two) and Maka Unufe scoring in the first half for a 26-10 lead at the break. In the second frame, tries from Perry Baker, Unufe and Thretton Palamo (subbing for the injured Zack Test) kept the Americans firmly in control for a final score of 45-22.
Earlier in the day the USA stunned host England with a 43-12 semifinal victory. Hughes scored twice, along with Baker and Carlin Isles; Andrew Durutalo also scored.
Team captain Hughes was named HSBC Sevens Player of the tournament.
"It is an absolutely incredible feeling,” he said after the Eagles won the title. “I remember coming to this tournament as a boy watching from the stands hoping that I could play in it some day. The new management team Mike Friday, Chris Brown and Phil Greening, have revolutionized the way in which we attack rugby, the way in which we train and our rugby lives. There is so much more to come, thank you very much for a phenomenal tournament and weekend.”
Winning a world series championship is a dream made real for Mike Friday’s Eagles, who nevertheless still have some ground to cover before they can secure a spot at next year’s summer Olympics in Rio.
The London round was the final event of the HSBC Sevens World Series, from which the top four teams receive automatic bids to the 2016 games. Fiji claimed the overall series title with 164 points, followed by South Africa (154 points), New Zealand (152 points) and England (132 points).
With a number six world finish for team USA, the Eagles must set their sights on the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens next month in Cary, NC. The men’s and women’s champion will walk away from the NACRA Sevens with a regional title and automatic bid to Rio.
The Eagles’ main competition in Cary is expected to be Canada, who fell to the US this past weekend 29-10 in the quarterfinals. Both teams have proven they can beat the other and the anticipated final at NACRA would be, in the worlds of The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly, “some of the most important minutes for rugby in the United States – ever.”
Men's Eagles London Sevens: Results
v France - W 24-19
v Portugal - W 28-12
v South Africa - W 21-12
Cup Quarterfinal v Canada - W 29-10
Cup Semifinal v England - W 43-12
Cup Final v Australia - W 45-22