Caption: Matt Hawkins in action for Serevi Selects in 2012. Photo: SUPPLIED.
The Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens will be the testing ground for future USA Olympic hopefuls, according to national men’s coach Matt Hawkins.
In a major boost for the tournament, both the shadow men’s and women’s USA teams have been confirmed for Lawaqa Park on 14-16 November.
“Having experienced last year’s tournament as a player (for Serevi Selects) I had no hesitation in recommending the Coral Coast as part of our development program,” said Hawkins. “It is a great opportunity to trial players from the college and Olympic Development Academy systems as there is no better place to learn the game than in Fiji.
“The three tiers of our program are the USA Eagles, Falcons and All-Americans, so the team to the Coral Coast will feature a few college players, and with rugby sevens really starting to gain some traction in the USA ahead of Rio 2016 we hope to make this an annual visit.”
The team, to be known as the “Shangri-La USA Falcons”, will be one of the 24 men’s teams in the tournament.
Defending champion Red Rock, Pakuranga (winner of New Zealand’s Middlesex Sevens) and Lauli’i Pago (American Samoa) are others confirmed for the Pacific Rim’s ‘champion of champions’.
The USA All-Americans had won the Serevi Rugbytown Sevens in August, while the winner of next weekend’s Fitness First Central Coast Sevens in NSW is to be added. Vaiala from Samoa has withdrawn.
“We are very grateful to the Shangri-La Fijian Resort and Spa for hosting us and equally excited that our women’s team will also be playing in Fiji,” Hawkins continued.
The USA Stars and Stripes in their first visit to Sigatoka take on 11 other teams for the Crest Na Iri Trophy.
“Our girls are really looking forward to heading to Fiji next month and we expect it to be a real learning experience which will be a benefit for us ahead of the women’s world series opener in Dubai,” said coach Ric Suggitt.
USA Rugby has 16 women’s players in its residency program at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, near San Diego, and the bulk of the team to Fiji are expected to be from this group.
The full USA Eagles women’s team finished third in the RWC Sevens in June and is a core team on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series which features six tournaments in 2013-14.
Five sides from Fiji, four from Australia and the national squad from New Caledonia will provide tough competition for the USA Stars and Stripes. One team is still to be finalised.
Tickets for the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens, which is sponsored by Goodman Fielder Fiji, Total Fiji Ltd, Fiji Airways, Outrigger on the Lagoon • Fiji, Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa, The Naviti Resort, Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa, Coastal Rental Cars, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, The Fiji Times, Communications Fiji Limited, Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, Nivea Men, Tappoo Group of Companies, Fiji Chemicals Diversey, Serevi Rugby and Sigatoka River Safari, are now on sale.
Further details are on www.sevenspassion.com.