As we continue to expand our rugby coverage here on Walker-Sports, I am happy to bring in the sevens experts of UR7s.com. Today we are honored to have Dallen Stanford who had the opportunity to sit down with USA 7's head coach Al Caravelli and have a discussion about the latest USA 7's camp.
The following article has been supplied by UR7s.com – the online home for everything rugby 7s.
The 2009/2010 IRB 7s season is almost amongst us, with many of the international teams holding selection and training camps.
I was fortunate to speak to USA 7s head Coach Al Caravelli at length yesterday about his upcoming training camp.
About 32 players will be attending the three-day assembly, running from 11-13 September at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, San Diego. This marvelous facility has been used by the USA 7s team during the past three seasons and provides an amazing atmosphere for young sportsmen aspiring to be full-time professional athletes.
The U.S. fielded one of the youngest 7s teams in London and Scotland last year (the final leg of the IRB 7s series). This experience bodes well for 2009/2010 with Caravelli’s goal to use 20 players during the entire season (less than 20 would of course be ideal he said, but injuries and availability are always issues). This past season, more than 30 players represented the USA 7s team.
It sounds like a lot, but in part that larger number occurs in a World Cup year, with several players retiring and the latter part of the season being used as a rebuilding phase.
When I was first invited to a USA 7s training camp it was also the first time Caravelli had the opportunity to select his own squad. About 60 players were invited to that camp in 2006, which took place at West Point Military Base. Since then Caravelli has kept a detailed list of players on his radar, and has travelled the country high and low in search of potential stars, especially enjoying the USA Nationals 7s Championships.
“This year’s Nationals were extremely competitive, with the quarterfinals producing some of the best club 7s I have seen,” enthused Caravelli
“I was impressed with the level of fitness and speed”.
The USA All-Star 7s competition also showed a higher quality tournament, with several players impressing enough to get an invite to the USA 7s camp. Caravelli was able to get a look at some youngsters playing for the collegiate teams, and kept an eye on returning injured Eagles like Kevin Swiryn and Nese Malifa.
One aspect that didn’t help though was that not all the best players in the country were available to play in the all-stars in New York. This is something that happens each year, and many people have talked about doing away with the tournament or making changes.
The pool of rugby players in the United States is of course very limited, with many of the other competing IRB Sevens teams contracting full time professional 7s players.
South African 7s coach Paul Treu—whom Caravelli is often in contact with—has successfully secured the budget to contract his squad of full-time players in Stellenbosch, just outside of Cape Town. This is one of the reasons why Treu only used a very small number of core players and eventually won the 2008/2009 IRB 7s title.
The Olympic 7s decision happens next month, and with a positive outcome the hope is to contract a certain number of professional rugby players in the USA, taking a massive step in the right direction.
In San Diego this weekend, the squad of 32 players will undergo an extensive fitness test, as well as working on both defensive communication and offensive patterns.
They are set to play three matches against each other on Sunday, which will—as always—be fiercely contested. These games, together with many of the training sessions, are filmed for coach and player review.
Not all of the squad will take the field, though injured 7s Eagles Matt Hawkins, Shalom Sunuila and Tai Enosa in attendance. These players will be carefully reviewing any updated changes to the current system, which means that they will be up to speed for the next assembly.
USA Sevens Training Squad:
Cory Blair; Matthew Byrd; Benjamin Haapapura; Keikiokalan Misipeka; Brian Naqica; Leonard Peters; Mark Roberts; Dallas Robinson; Peter Sio; Kevin Wiggins; Fred Wintermantle; Marco Barnard; Ben Catania; Elliot Rechtin; Trevor Richards; PJ Komongnan; Ata Malifa; Iopu Sanonu; Shalom Suniula; Valenese Malifa; Jone Naqica; Mile Pulu; Efthimiou Dimitri; Jonathan Pratter; Michael Nelson; Suli Holani; Alex Ross; Eric Walton; Clint Whittler; Matt Hawkins; Tai Enosa and Kevin Swiryn.
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