Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stars, Northeast ODA Seeking Tobago 7s Title

Things may be quiet on the domestic front with club and college rugby on break but for the Stars 7s and the Northeast ODA it will be a busy weekend as they contest the Tobago 7s. For the Northeast ODA it will be an opportunity to pick up a second title in a row after winning last year. For the Stars, who will enter two women's teams and a men's team, it's about earning their first victory as a program. There is a strong reward in it for both. The winner of the men's division takes him $10,000 while the women's winner takes home $5,000.

Northeast ODA

Led by Nate Augspurger and Pono Haitsuka, both of whom have seen significant time with the Eagles, as well as Eagles hopefuls Nate Brakeley, Marcus Henderson, and Sean Rafferty the Northeast ODA looks loaded. Augspurger and Brakeley were outstanding in the summer and will be looked upon as leaders. Other players that could make a big impact include Vini Daley, who has recovered after last year's horrific leg break in London, and Duran Vota.

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Most of the players are coming off a recent appearance at the New York City Sevens where they played for either the New England or Empire teams. The Empire won that tournament. The team not only has experience but also has pace and power. That should come in handy as they find themselves in Group D with Invictus, the Venezuelan national team, and RSCC. The Northeast should win the pool handily. That is where things will get interesting as they could come up against the Dog River Howlers, Esher, who they beat last year in the final, or a composite team from Rah Rah Rugby.

Squad: Nate Augspurger (Old Blue), Nate Brakeley (NYAC), Jared Collinson (Mystic), Vini Daley (Mystic), Jon Feldman (Mystic), Pono Haitsuka (Mystic), Marcus Henderson (Old Blue), Bobby Keehn (White Plains), Rich Kirkland (New Haven), Sean Rafferty (Mystic), Matt Sodermann (Old Blue), Duran Vota (Boston)

Stars 7s Men

The Stars are playing in their second major tournament this fall after the Central Coast 7s several weeks back. Organizer Liz Entwhistle has once again put together strong teams, especially on the men's side. Former WCAP residency player Eric Deuchle and Marcus Satavu will be playing for the team. Cody Weber was a big part of the Kansas City Blues this summer and will once again be turning out for the team. He picked up an injury in Australia but is back to full strength.

Another player that is healthy and could be the breakout player of the tournament is JoJo Tikoisuva. The recent Fiji-camp invitee and Junior Olympian was injured in the Stars first match at the Central Coast 7s but in warm-up matches he was nearly unstoppable. Look for him to have a big tournament. Other players returning to the team from previous tours include Chris Billedge, Eddie Paea, and Junior Sucu.

The Stars are in Group C with Forces, the Howlers, and Northerns. Like the Northeast ODA, the Stars should finish in the top two of their pool. The top two from each pool will then be divided into two pools on day two with the two winners of those pools facing each other for the title.

Squad: Zach Blalock (Life ODA), Eric Deuchle (Serevi), Amro Duda (Life ODA), Kyle Granby (NYAC), Jonathan Halter (Gainesville Hogs), Chris Milledge (Life ODA), Mitch millett (St. Albert), Eddie Paea (Eastern Suburbs), Marcus Satavu (Bulldog), Joe Senteno (Downtown Rugby Club), Junior Sucu (Washington Rugby Club), Jojo Tikoisuva (Sacramento Lions), Antoine Turner (Life West), Cody Weber (Kansas City Blues)

Stars 7s Women

The Stars are taking two women's sides which Entwhistle says is a direct result from player demands. "It was so close to Australia that it was up in the air that we were going to take teams but there was such demand from the players that wanted to play. Staying to our mission of development we said 'alright, let's take some teams."

The Stars will be missing some veterans from the Central Coast 7s like Deven Owsiany and Ryan Carlyle but have gained plenty of experience in Phaidra Knight. Also on the tour is Nana Fa'Avesi who is coming straight from the Eagles 7s team that played in Dubai. Corinne Heaver from Penn State and the Old Blue women as well as Amanda Divich from Lindenwood are also on the team.

The team has the strength to go far but it also depends on how they are dividing their teams. The Stars Green will be in Group E with Heidi's Heroes, the Dog River Howlers, Lazybugs, Police, and Venezuela. The Stars Blue will be in Group F with Atlantis, Curacao, Rainbow, Swifts, and UWI. The women's division is pools of six teams with the top two teams from each pool playing in semi-finals on day two. Both Stars have a strong chance of making the top four.

Squad: Kaitlyn (KB) Broughton (Oklahoma Roses), Judy Dickson (Atlanta Harlequins), Amanda Divich (Lindenwood University), Liz Entwhistle (Fort Miami/W1823), Joanne (Nana) Fa'Avesi (Sacramento Amazons/USA 7s), Kat Gorham (North Shore), Jen Harig (Davenport University), Corinne Heavner (Penn State Univeristy/Old Blue), Courtney Jessamy (Charlotte), Phaidra Knight (Old Blue), Tiara Littleton (Dallas Harlequins), Angelina Lomu (SFGG), Toni Lloyd (Allen Griffins), Michelle Perna (Seattle Saracens/Serevi Institute), Shamira Robles (AIC/Old Blue), Gardenia (Fehi) Schaaf (Sacramento Amazons), Tiana (Tee) Strougher (SFGG), Cara Thayer (South Buffalo Sinners), Rontrice Thomas (Knoxville Minx), Sarah Thomas (Wisconsin Rugby Club), Lauren (LT) Turner (Scioto Valley/W1823), Kassidi Wynter (Atlanta Harlequins)

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