|UPDATE 10/1||Matai Leuta, Stephen Tomasin and Travion Clark did not travel due to injury. Garrett Bender also stayed behind for personal reasons. More info here.|
MANCHESTER, U.K. – With a new season quickly approaching, the USA Men’s Falcons will compete in the AF International Sevens preseason competition in Manchester next week Oct 6-7.
Taking place at the Athlete Factory’s premium training facilities in the U.K., Head Coach Mike Friday and a collection of standout performers from recent club and college competitions will test their strengths against England, France, Ireland, Spain and Germany.
The round-robin competition will allow a number of young, long sought-after players to be exposed to international competition, as the men’s program focuses heavily on identifying and developing athletes for the upcoming HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, Tokyo 2020 Olympics and World Cup 2022 events.
A total of 16 athletes have been selected to compete in the AF International Sevens. Nine are senior Men’s Sevens players while seven are some of the nation’s most impressive club and college competitors scouted over the past year.
All athletes selected participated in last week’s high performance training camp.
One of which is Men’s Collegiate All-American Marcus Tupuola who showed a strong performance at both Club 7s National Championships and RugbyTown Sevens where he won Bronze. Tupuola’s All-American teammate Harley Wheeler – who was also in camp — would have equally been an easy selection but remains out due to collegiate commitments; along with fellow All-American D’ Montae Noble of Kutztown. All three have been closely scouted.
St. Mary’s captain and 2014 Youth Olympian Vili Helu joins the Falcons for a second consecutive time after impressing Men’s Sevens staff at the pre-Rugby World Cup Sevens camp and RugbyTown. Helu’s selection serves as a first-hand representation of how developmental and Youth Olympic competitions are invaluable steps along the player pathway.
Additionally, 19-year old Ryan James who has been on the high performance radar since the age of 17 makes his own appearance in Manchester.
Travion Clark and Eric Sykes — Men’s DII National Champions (15s) with the Denver Barbarians – both travel to Manchester after earning camp selections from impressive showings at Club Nationals and RugbyTown.
The bulk of the core Men’s Sevens team will remain in Chula Vista to continue preparation for an Olympic qualifying year, as Ben Broselle, Faitala Talapusi, Anthony Welmers, Joe Schroeder and Malon Al-Jaboori all work to return to full strength from injury.
As a whole, Falcons level competitions have served as a significant platform to cultivate and verify talent. Similar to RugbyTown Sevens last month, the Manchester bound group features a wide range of experience and offers developing youth the opportunity to learn and play alongside members of the senior national team.
Head Coach Mike Friday said: “Our network of scouts have allowed us to closely watch the RugbyTown Sevens, Club Sevens National Championship and Collegiate Rugby Championship tournaments over the past several months. This, accompanied by the detailed footage we collected, has let us recognize a number of talented players while we continue rigorous work to develop our Youth Olympic athletes and prepare for an Olympic qualification year at the same time.
“JD Stephenson has led and driven this strand of the USA Rugby pathway passionately and meticulously to give the team the best possible opportunity to succeed and enjoy the experience whilst preparing them for the next part of their development as rugby players and men.”
The 16 Men’s Falcons will begin their tournament run against Spain at 5:40 AM ET on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Athlete Factory International Sevens competition will run until Oct 7 with updates available across USA Rugby’s social media channels.
Men’s Falcons Roster
Athletes were selected from last week’s Men’s Sevens high performance training camp.
1. Garrett Bender*
2. Pat Blair*
3. Chris Frazier
4. Vili Helu
5. Madison Hughes*
6. Steve Tomasin*
7. Naima Fualaau*
8. Cody Melphy*
9. Kevon Williams*
10. Chris Mattina*
11. Maceo Brown
12. Matai Leuta*
13. Ryan James
14. Marcus Tupuola
15. Eric Sykes
16. Travion Clark
Men’s Falcons Staff
Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | Phil Greening
Strength & Conditioning | Matt Long
Athletic Trainer | Alex Burke
Men’s Falcons Schedule
Sat, Oct 6 – 5:40 AM ET
Sat, Oct 6 – 8 AM ET
Sat, Oct 6 — 11:40 AM ET
Sun, Oct. 7 – 5:20 AM ET
Sun, Oct 7 – 8 AM ET
Final rounds begin with 5th place vs 6pth place on Sun, Oct. 7 at 11 AM ET.