2015 Cape Town 7s: USA Men’s Team Analysis and Tournament Preview

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – Our World Rugby HSBC 7s coverage continues, as we touch down in The Republic. This is the 2nd stop on in the 12-stop tournament. Like last week, we will look at Eagle 7s program and as we did all last season, try our luck at predicting the tournament standings – including the winner.

Raising the standards and raising the bar are usually always a good thing. They mean you have improved you baseline, you have started to show your potential. The negative of this is that your fans will demand more, you leave yourself less room for excuses. This is the situation that USA 7s Head Coach Mike Friday and his staff have found themselves. USA rugby fans have seen their team win a tournament (London,at the end of the 2014/2015 series) and have now defeated New Zealand for the first and second time in their history. They also have their highest standing after one round (well any round) in the history of the 7s. Fans and observers fully believe that the USA is in the running for a top four finish and an Olympic medal. The pressure is cranking up as expectations are greater than they have ever been heading into Cape Town. As we prepare for the South African stop on the tour, let’s look at the 3 key issues going into tournament:

Team changes (+/-): There are 1.5 changes to the USA squad from Dubai. Nate Augspurger is out and Mikey Te’o is in. It is rare to make such a change in between tournaments especially as the problem is not injury. Augspurger is heading back stateside because he is part of the wedding party for his brother’s wedding. We wish Nate a safe passage and his brother good luck on married life. Traveling with the side but not yet written in as a replacement is Thretton Palamo. The last time Palamo filled inm he was able to help the team win in London. Playing for the London Welsh and being allowed to travel means that Palamo won’t experience any change in time zone. Depending on how the forwards feel after the final training session and if they all get over their nagging injuries, we may not see Palamo used.

Consistency: The ability to stay focused for each match is crucial. To think that this same team lost to France but beat New Zealand twice is hard to grasp. The USA team made simple mistakes and it cost them against France and against England in the Cup semi-final. Think about the fact that despite a horrific injury tally, New Zealand still made it to the 3/4th place match and that was a disappointing finish for them. This is the level of consistency that the USA needs on a regular basis.

Perfect Day 1: With the urge for consistency and the importance of making a statement, the USA needs to go undefeated on Day 1. It sets the tone for the tournament and will help the team develop a mental edge.

SA 7s fans are always hyped

Optimist’s View: They continue their hot streak and make the Cup final, falling just short.

Cynic’s View: They make the Cup playoffs lose in the quarters but rally to win the plate

RWU view: We feel the side will continue its positive and consistent streak and finish fourth.

CAPE TOWN 7s:
So it was an interesting round one. Fiji looked to be in peerless form and the All Black 7s side had to fly in 5 replacements. England made a huge statement that they belong in the top four and the USA managed to crack the top 4 and have a player named to the team of the tournament in Dubai. This means that this tournament is completely up for grabs.

Here are our pool previews:

Pool A:
Fiji
Argentina
Scotland
Russia

Fiji win this group. They will get a big fight from Argentina, but they will survive it and the Argies will finish second. Coming in third will be Scotland as they will push the top two sides but fall short.  Russia will be the pool whipping boy.

Pool B:
South Africa
England
Kenya
Zimbabwe

South Africa will take this group with the benefit of home field advantage. England will push the Blitzbokke hard but the support of the Cape Townians will help spur on the home side. From there, Kenya Is a lock for third place with non-core Zimbabwe being used as cannon fodder.

SA will try to win the cup at home, once again.

Pool C:
USA
Australia
Wales
Portugal

USA will win this group. They will have to be, if they have visions of becoming a top tier side. They will face a challenge from Australia but considering that the Aussies are rebuilding, the USA should have the goods to win this match. Wales will fight it out with Portugal for third place. It is anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top but we feel it will be Wales.

Pool D:
New Zealand
France
Canada
Samoa

This is a tough group to call. Despite five new players called upm we are confident of New Zealand’s depth and ability to win this group. If the Kiwi‘s don’t win this group, the likely winner will be France as they looked very good in Dubai with their only loss coming to New Zealand. Samoa finished higher than Canada in Dubai but we believe that Canada will be able to steal third in this group from Samoa.

Final standings will be:

Cup: South Africa
Second: USA
Third: Fiji
Plate: New Zealand
Bowl:Canada
Shield: Portugal

That’s it for now! Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Jamie Loyd, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Ronan Nelson, Kaitlin McCabeKyle Phillips, Rocky Brown and Declan Yeats, respectively.

And remember to stay low and keep pumping those legs!

 

About Junoir Blaber 867 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.