Thursday, August 24, 2017

RugbyTown 7s Preview: Pool C & Pool D

We continue our preview of tomorrow's RugbyTown 7s. The tournament can be seen on The Rugby Channel.

Pool C: All-Americans, Atavus, Canada, Fiji, Ramblin' Jesters

This is another very tough pool. A couple of very good teams are going to miss out on the quarterfinals and it's a bit of a toss-up to see who makes it into the top two. The obvious team to grab one of those spots is the Fiji side. They include a number of veterans from not only the Olympics but the World Sevens Series like Samisoni Viriviri, Vatemo Ravouvou, and Jasa Vermalua. They are the favorites to win the whole tournament.

Outside of Fiji all of the other four teams have a shot at the quarterfinals. The College All-Americans team looks like one of the strongest in recent memory. Cristian Rodriquez, Harley Davidson, Cody Melphy, and Jihad Khabir are all candidates to go further in the national team set-up if they have a big tournament. Khabir in particular could be set for a strong showing.

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Atavus are bringing a team of veterans combined with some younger players. They will be missing some of the players that have traditionally starred for them in the past like Mike Palefau but they have Tim Stanfill and William Rasileka on the roster. They will be organized and tough to beat but may not have the all-round package they've had in past years. 

The Canadian Maple Leafs are development squad with players looking to break into the first team. Traditionally they have been organized but they will be young and may struggle in this deep pool. The Ramblin Jesters will have some American talent like Alex Faison Donahue, Kina Malafu, and Niall and Cian Barry. They also have a host of players with overseas experience. That makes them a bit of a wildcard. 

Prediction: Along with Fiji we think that the College All-Americans sneak through.
Pool D: Azul, British Army, Cayman Islands, Glendale Merlins, SoCal Griffins

Pool D is maybe the hardest of the pools to read. They have some teams that have the capability of being dark horses throughout the whole tournament. However, not much is known about many of the teams. That includes the British Army. They have been one of the better teams at the tournament the last few years and with a squad full of Fijians have the tools to go far (note: there are a lot of Fijians at this tournament).

Likely the second best team, at least on paper, in the pool is the hosts Glendale Merlins. They have some very good players in Ata Malifa, Bryce Campbell, Seth Halliman, and Deion Mikesell. Halliman has played for the 7s team with some success and Campbell is a fixture on the 15s team. It will be very interesting to see how Campbell does in a 7s environment. He's set to play in MLR but at the same time could be a piece for the 7s team going forward. We'd also like to see what Mikesell does.

There are a couple of teams that could upset things in Pool D. Depending on what kind of team Azul sends they could challenge the Merlins. The same goes for the SoCal Griffins. The Cayman Islands have been together for while but will likely face a talent gap.

Prediction: The British Army and the Glendale Merlins advance.

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