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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In Praise Of Those That Didn't Make It To Rio

Photo: Connie Hatfield

As we've seems over the last few days there is nothing that brings more elation and relief to an athlete than knowing that they've made the Olympics. For most athletes it is the pinnacle of their sport. They work for years to put themselves in a position to make it where only a few go and finally achieving that must be spectacular. At the same time, missing out on the Olympics must be heartbreaking beyond relief. The players that missed out also put in years of hard work and sacrificed a lot in their lives for a chance to represent their country but didn't see the reward.

It's the players that missed out for the Men's and Women's Eagles that we want to talk about for a moment. These players aren't going to get the glory over the next month or so but they deserve credit for pushing those that made the final 12 to be the best 12 possible to take to the Olympics. If the U.S. win a medal then they will only have the people that pushed them to thank.

Take the jump to read more.
One of the biggest reasons the Eagles have seems success on the Men's and Women's Sevens Series over the last couple of years is because they have built up depth. Yes, each team has taken a core group of players but they have also used a lot of other players. The Men's team used 21 players on the Series this year. Players like Martin Iosefo, Thretton Palamo, Nate Augspurger, Will Holder, Kevin Swiryn, Brett Thompson, Peter Tiberio, Mati Leuta, Pat Blair, Seth Halliman, and Ben Leatigaga were key contributors this year but are going to miss out. On the Women's side of things there isn't room for the likes of Ashley Perry, Meya Bizer, Kate Zackary, and Nicole Heavirland. For some of those players they are young enough to have another chance in 2020 but for others it's the end of the road.

The lack of job security is a great incentive for players to get better. The competition that Mike Friday and Richie Walker has brought into camp has only made each team better. But it's not just the teams in Rio that are going to get better. The fact that there are now at least a dozen players on the Men's and Women's team is going to help the Eagles 15s teams as well. For example, Mike Te'o may not have played 7s this year but there is no question being in residency made him a better player that has now made an impact on the 15s team. The same goes for Will Holder, Peter Tiberio, and Steve Tomasin. The Women Eagles have the World Cup coming up next year and not only are the main 7s players going to be key contributors but also players that didn't make the squad in Rio.

The trickle down impact of the Eagles 7s and the drive to Rio and subsequent Olympics is only going to make rugby in the U.S. better down the years. The coaching staffs absolutely deserve praise but it's the players, those that both made it Rio and those that pushed them, that deserve credit. So when we're watching the U.S. push for a medal remember those that helped them get there.



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