USA Men’s 7s Captain Madison Hughes Announces leave of Absence

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CHULA VISTA, CA –  After seven years, two Olympic Games and numerous trips to the podium, USA Men’s Sevens Captain Madison Hughes has decided to step away from rugby with the intent to return sometime in the future.

Hughes is one of only five USA Sevens players who’ve represented their country more than 50 times in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. He was Captain for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, as well as Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, and also helped the United States qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 in XVs.

In 2015, Hughes helped the team win their first ever gold medal in the World Series which also ended a five-year absence from the podium and saw him named player of the tournament. In 2019, he led the program to its most successful season of all time, claiming seven medals in 10 events, a No. 2 world-ranking and automatic qualification to the Tokyo Olympics. He currently stands as the program’s highest scorer including tries and conversions — 6th all-time — and has been the leading tackler since World Rugby began tracking the metric.

Following years of dedication to his teammates and the sport, Hughes has earned the right to explore his future outside of rugby and return when it’s time for the next chapter.

To his entire community of supporters, Hughes says:

In 2014 I was shocked when Mike Friday asked 21-year-old, 4-World-Series-tournament me if I’d captain the USA Men’s 7s team.“As the youngest and least experienced player on the team, I was worried I wasn’t ready for the responsibility and how my teammates would react. I was blown away by the incredibly supportive reaction instantly from the most experienced players on the team; guys who I looked up to and for whom I have so much respect. Looking back almost 7 years later, it’s clear that this has been an amazing journey with teammates I wouldn’t trade for anyone in the world.

“I’ve said many times that it feels like there’s a group of us who really evolved and grew up together. The Olympics in Tokyo were not the culmination we dreamed of or worked for all these years. We’ll carry that disappointment for the rest of our lives but I can take solace in the fact that we’ve also made some remarkable leaps forward over this time. From winning the first ever cups for a USA 7’s team, finishing 2nd in the world in 2019 and gaining automatic Olympic qualification, we consistently became a top team on the World Series.

I think it’s the right moment, for both the team and myself, for someone else to step into the captaincy role and take the team forward.

“I’m not calling this a retirement — I definitely have it in my head that I’ll be back. For now, I need to discover myself off the rugby pitch.

“I’ll always be grateful for the support from every one of my teammates, who delivered time and time again when I asked for more, as well as our coaching staff who pushed me to become a better leader, and all the fans who cheered us on across the world — even for those pesky games in the middle of the night.

“It’s been an honor. See you later”

Head Coach Mike Friday said:

“I can’t speak highly enough of Maddy on and off the pitch. He is an impressive individual who has grown into a balanced human being and matured as a rugby player and captain over the years.

“He’s led such a diverse group year over year with pride, passion, determination and togetherness. He will no doubt hit his next challenge head on as his quality of character will ensure he is a success in whatever that will be.

“Go well Capt.”

RWU NOTE: When you around Mr. Hughes, he is impossible not to like and makes you feel as though you’ve known him forever. Top player. Top human being.


The next big thing on the American rugby landscape may be the just-rebranded American Raptors Cross-over Academy team. Located in Glendale, CO and housed at the rugby-specific and first-rate Infinity Park complex, this intense and immersive program is already bearing fruit… To that end, Director of Rugby/Head Coach Mark Bullock & budding star David Still tell Matt McCarthy all about it.



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AND… our interview with Major League Rugby’s #2 pick Emmanuel Albert, who happens to be inspired by Maro Itoje.

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About Matt McCarthy 754 Articles
Matt McCarthy comes to from their partner in the USA, RWU and MTM feature a stable of diverse contributors, with coverage that is both serious and with a wink. Find him on twitter: @Matt_McCarthy00