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The first camp of the USA Sevens team’s season was completed at the weekend and Al Caravelli, who is heading into his fourth season as head coach, is in the process of contacting players to let them know where they are in the pecking order.
The goal this season will be to have less than 20 athletes representing the USA during the IRB Sevens World Series, which, in turn, will provide the team with more continuity.
Following three days of fitness testing, defensive work, and inter-squad scrimmaging, Caravelli said he was overall very pleased with the athleticism and speed of the players involved, but added the fitness, while good, will need to improve.
“It was one of our fastest camps,” said Caravelli. “And what was nice was that two players who weren’t really on my radar before the All-Star Championships did really well.”
Dimitri Efthimiou of Mystic River and Suli whose full name is Aotealoa Holani Nahaou Unaloto both earned call-ups due to performances at the All-Star Championships as selection to this camp came from the athletes distinguishing themselves through the USA’s summer domestic Sevens schedule.
The season culminated with the US Nationals and All-Star Championships but Caravellli's meticulous preparation means he will be providing fitness programmes to all the players, before establishing what the next step is.
Gold coast and NACRA Sevens
The plan is to take the team to the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia November 7-8 and then to the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens in Mexico City a week late before the first leg of the IRB Series begins in December at the Dubai Sevens.
But all that depends on funds. USA Rugby is in the red right now and the Sevens budget has been cut. Even though the team is looking ahead to a new 2009-2010 season, they are working off 2009 money, of which there is none.
Reports that an outside source might professionalise the team are tantalising, but as yet have not become reality.
“Not going to Gold Coast and NACRA wouldn’t be a disaster, but it would benefit us,” Caravelli said, pointing out that Australia will field four teams in Gold Coast for their national trial, and New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa are all expected to send two teams.
“If we missed those tournaments it wouldn’t put us at a disadvantage, but if we played, we would have an advantage,” Caravelli said.
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