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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Falcons Proving Valuable To The Eagles 7s

The Falcons just came back from a two stop tour of South America and while the team didn't win in Argentina or Chile they did gain more experience than they would have otherwise. With matches against tough teams in South Africa, Argentina, Canada, and even teams like Chile and Brazil, developing players like Alex Faison-Donahoe, Tua Leai, Kingsley McGown, and Aladdin Shirmer all got valuable playing time. That's simply something that can't be replicated at the OTC, no matter who hard the training environment. It's also the type of experience that translates into better players on the World Sevens Series. It's no coincidence that many of the players currently starring for the Eagles, including Madison Hughes, got their start playing with the Falcons.

Already the team has played at the Halloween 7s in addition to the South American tour. However, their most important stretch is coming up as the team gets ready for the Las Vegas Invitational and the tournament that will be played alongside the Vancouver 7s. The fields for both of those tournaments already look strong. Daveta from Fiji will be on the team as will the Northeast ODA, Denver, the defending champion ATAVUS All-Stars and the German and Italian national teams.

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When all is said and done the Falcons will have played in five tournaments this year with the possibility of a couple more depending on how things shake out. It wasn't too many years ago that the full Eagles 7s team only played five tournaments in a year. In the game of 7s it's hard to replicate game time, high level game time at that, and as we've seen with the Eagles it's game time that really helps teams develop. It's so important to the future growth of the Eagles that they get their developing players and coaches as many games as possible.

Even more, having the Falcons play a number of development tours this year is only going to push the Eagles to excel at the Olympics. One thing has been very clear since Mike Friday took over the team and that is that no player has a guaranteed spot on the team. Just look at the roster heading to Wellington and Sydney where there is no room for either Brett Thompson or Garrett Bender. Having the Falcons show in tournaments that they can play is only going to put pressure on the core Eagles group to stay solid and push it ahead of the Olympics. It's the pressure all around, on the Eagles and on the Falcons, that makes everyone better.

It's possible that the Falcons are getting more playing time this year because of the Olympics but let's hope not. Let's hope that the team continued to get 5-8 solid tournaments a year. The same goes for the Women Eagles 7s. Not only does the top team need more game time but so do the developmental players under the top team. They've done a good job of bringing in teams like Ireland and Canada but nothing can replicate a tour, as the Falcons are showing.

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