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Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween 7s Preview & Predictions

If you think about it, holding a 7s tournament over Halloween makes a lot of sense. It's a party atmosphere, it's a weekend where some club teams might not be inclined to play, and if you bring in top teams, like the Halloween 7s has done, you provide a warm-up tournament for the World Sevens Series. Arguably, the Halloween 7s has the best collection of 7s players in one tournament this year. The LVI, Serevi RugbyTown Sevens, Club 7s Nationals, and Elite City 7s have all done a good job but by including what is essentially close to the first teams of the U.S., Canada, and Argentina the Halloween 7s has created a really deep field.

If you look at the rosters of each of the teams, and not just the national team rosters, you understand why this tournament is so appealing. Fans are going to be able to see the likes of Dylan Carrion, Pono Haitsuka, Pila Huihui, Tonata Lauti, Gannon Moore, and Kevon Williams and that's not even mentioning the players on the respective national teams.

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Just looking at the national teams everyone who wasn't at the World Cup is on the Eagles team. Andrew Durutalo, who logged heavy minutes at the World Cup, will be playing, but Zack Test, Danny Barrett, Brett Thompson, and Folau Niua are all being rested. Still, that leaves the likes of Carlin Isles, Perry Baker, Martin Iosefo, Madison Hughes, Garrett Bender, and Maka Unufe all playing. They will be playing with the Falcons are likely the tournament favorites.

The Falcons roster is a more developmental roster but it is still loaded with talent, including Durutalo. Former Eagles 7s captain Kevin Swiryn is trying to make his way back on to the team while the tournament could be a coming out party for the likes of Ben Pinkelman, who was strong this summer with Denver, Tua Leai, Will Holder, and Colton Cariaga. There are players that we could easily see on the World Series this year and possibly the Olympics and they aren't going to have a better opportunity to showcase that then this weekend.

The same goes for all the players on the various ODAs. When Alex Magleby implemented this system a few years he said it would take time for the system to take shape and make an impact. This tournament is the direct result of that. Teams like New York, Ohio, and Denver aren't really new to tournaments like this and this point. They are seasoned veterans and the players on their team have significant high-level experience. That's important because if they get called into the Eagles they don't have as significant of a gap in terms of level of play. 

Pool A: Falcons, Denver, Argentina, Utah

The great thing about this tournament is that there are no easy pools and Pool A is probably the most wide open. Argentina are going to be very strong with players like Rodrigo Etchart and Axel Muller on the roster. They have shown time and time again they can win on the Series. The Falcons have the potential to challenge them but cohesion will be in the favor of Argentina.

Both Denver and Utah have packed rosters. Utah has brought in the likes of Robbie Ah Sue, a player that has received a lot of mention, and Tonata Lauti, a former All-American. They also have several BYU players on the roster, including the Whippy brothers. Having that BYU connection could be huge. Denver have had Ben Pinkelman plucked to the Falcons but with a combination of players from Colorado, Missouri, and New Mexico they will be very strong. Max De Achaval is underrated and Kevon Williams has been playing some good rugby.

Predicted Order: Argentina, Falcons, Denver, Utah

Pool B: Hawks, Ohio, Maple Leafs, New York

This pool will not be an easy pool either and arguably is more difficult than Pool A. The Hawks are stacked. It is missing the likes of Test and Niua but it still has Unufe, Baker, Isles, Hughes, and Garrett Bender. It was just a few months ago that this core group of players won the London 7s. The pressure will be on for them to dominate this tournament, not just win.

Their biggest competition will likely be the Maple Leafs. They are also missing some of their players that played in the World Cup but do have Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mack, and John Moonlight all available. Canada had a bit of a down year early last year but then found their form. Plus, they will be upset to have missed out on the NACRA 7s. They will want to take it to the Eagles setting up some great fireworks. 

Both Ohio and New York have the ability to cause an upset. New York is very experience with players like Haitsuka, Eric Deuchle, Ryan Matyas, and others on the roster. They also have players like Harry Higgins, Rick Kirkland, and Dylan Carrion who are set to star once again. For Ohio, eyes should be on Pila Huihui for a breakout.

Predicted Order: Hawks, Maple Leafs, New York, Ohio

The tournament will be streamed live on USARugbyTV.com. Saturday the coverage begins at 2:55 p.m. et/11:55 p.m. pt and on Sunday begins at 2:00 p.m. et/11:00 a.m. pt. 

1 comment:

  1. tried to watch the replay and fast forwarded to the 3rd game, so maybe they fixed it BUT, is it to much to ask for to get a decent camera man and streaming service for these turneys? either do it right or don't do it at all.