The Men's Elite bracket looks solid once again even without the presence of the Falcons. Budget constraints mean the Falcons won't be at the tournament but from what TIAR understands players in the Eagles pool, including those at Chula Vista, have been spread out to several domestic teams. There are a number of top domestic teams set for the tournament including the Northeast Academy, The Selects, Denver, Tiger 1823, and the Serevi Selects. Additionally, there will once again but several very good international teams. Play begins on Thursday.
Pool A: Germany, APX Fiji Blond, Air Force, Misfits
When Germany have sent their top team they have been a very, very good team that has made a big impression on fans. However, with the Six Nations B going on and Germany trying to make it to the World Cup they might not be sending their top team. That could leave a hole for a team like APX Fiji Blond from Canada, the Air Force, or the Misfits to break through. The Air Force have been known to produce good players.
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Pool B: Northeast Academy, Tama Laie Lions, The Selects, West Indies
The Northeast Academy and The Selects will be the top two teams in this pool. Once again the Northeast Academy is bringing plenty of talent. They have been a pipeline to the Eagles over the last few years now and there are plenty of experienced players on the roster. Mike St. Clair, Derek Lipscomb, Vini Daley, and Rich Kirkland are all outstanding and we expect them to push for the final. It would not shock us to see the Northeast Academy lift the trophy on Saturday.
The Selects could be the surprise of the tournament. They have done a lot of recruiting this year and have a couple of capped Fijians playing for them. The question for them is as a select side can they put it all together in a short time frame. The Tama Laie Lions are a Hawaiian side that can bring out good talent but generally struggled. The West Indies could be good if they truly are a select side from the region. If that's true look for them to play well.
Pool C: Denver 7s, Black Dragon, Borelli Walsh Selects, Air Force 2
Every time the Denver 7s show up to a tournament they are seen as a good time but often get overlooked when talking about eventual champions. Not this time. Denver are a legitimate contender to win the whole thing. There is a special group of players in Denver at the moment and nothing would be more fulfilling for them that lifting the LVI title. We're don't know too much about Black Dragon or Borelli Walsh Selects but foreign sides are always good.
Pool D: Froggies Midol, Serevi Selects, Tribe, Oxfam Crusaders
The Froggies Midol made it to the final last year and they will be back for more this year. In their way will be the Serevi Selects. Word on the street is that the Serevi Selects will once again feature some of the stars from Seattle like Mike Palefau. If that's true than the rest of the field better watch out. The Oxfam Crusaders could also be a surprise team.
Pool E: Atlantis, Tiger 1823, Florida ODA, Stars
This is an all-domestic pool that could be wide open. Atlantis are a target to feature some top domestic players but our money is on Tiger 1823. We think they are going to feature a lot of the star players from Ohio as well as Eagles pool players. They have had some struggles making it to the final in the past but they have more experience this year. Florida and the Stars will be fun to watch.