Te'o traveling with Eagles to Hong Kong, Singapore for Series return

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday has chosen a 13-man travel squad for the seventh and eighth legs of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season in Asia.

Americas Rugby Championship champion Mike Te’o and Davenport University graduate Anthony Welmers come into the squad as the only two changes from the team that placed third at HSBC USA Sevens and fourth at HSBC Canada Sevens less than a month ago. Captain Madison Hughes‘ Eagles moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Series standings heading into Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, which will see them face Argentina, Russia, and Scotland in Pool D. Pool play will commence at Hong Kong Stadium Friday, April 7, with all matches available to viewers in the United States via World Rugby’s Sevens Series live stream.

“We are happy with our progress and how we are holding ourselves on the pitch and on the circuit as at present, with all the uncontrollables we are currently having to deal with, we are doing well to be in the top five chasing the top four,” Friday said. “The boys are working hard and applying ourselves as, ultimately, we were disappointed we did not make both finals and the reason being not dealing with those critical moments when they presented themselves.”

Though Te’o, 23, has not appeared on the Series in an Eagles jersey since the 2013-14 season, he has been one of the busiest rugby players in the country. Since his last Series action, he has played senior club rugby with Belmont Shore Rugby Football Club and Old Mission Beach Athletic Club across multiple competitions, made the foray into professional rugby, and scored seven tries in 11 international tests for the international XVs squad. He recorded four tries as John Mitchell’s team won the second ARC earlier this month, and has continued his sevens training with the developmental Falcons squad.

“Mikey Te’o has worked extremely hard on his game these last 12 to 18 months – both at XVs and sevens – and is maturing well as a player who has real x-factor and is learning when and when not to take risks, and be more calculated on when those are or are not needed,” Friday said. “He has also worked to improve his defensive game and his one-on-one tackling. We are excited to see Mikey complement the squad.”

Welmers has also made a name for himself on the sevens scene, touring with the Falcons to South America in 2016 and 2017 in addition to joining Olympian Nate Ebner at Howard Hinton Sevens ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Post-Rio, the U.S. Army sergeant was selected as the 13th man in Friday’s Eagles for the opening rounds of the current season, making his official debut at HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

“Welmers has done well since his debut in Cape Town and has been working very hard in camp to earn another opportunity,” Friday said. “As a result, he has forced his way into the 12, and he is a capable attacker and an aerial threat, which will give the squad another option to go to.”

Coinciding with the team’s rise in the rankings, U.S. players have been recognized in tournament Dream Teams for three legs running. Danny Barrett, who will be playing in his 30th career tournament when Hong Kong kicks off, was selected to both the HSBC Sydney7s and Las Vegas best-of lists. Perry Baker, meanwhile, led the Vancouver tournament in points and tries scored with 45 and nine, respectively – capping off the weekend with his 100th career score – and was the Eagles’ representative in the Dream Team.

Folau Niua was an early candidate for the Dream Team due to his positive ranking in World Rugby’s Performance Tracker at Canada Sevens, and has been an instrumental piece to Friday’s puzzle for multiple seasons. He will participate in a team-high 47th tournament in Hong Kong (Zack Test owns the U.S. all-time record with 62 appearances).

Much like with Ebner’s transition to the international level last year, Malon Al-Jiboori will compete in the GFI Hong Kong 10s tournament with Samurai’s representative side in the build-up week to the Series leg. The All-American was previously included as the 13th man in Friday’s Vegas and Vancouver squads, and will serve the same role until injury necessitates a call-up to the 12.

The U.S has finished sixth in each of the past two years in Hong Kong. Seven members of last year’s team, including Olympians Martin Iosefo, Ben Pinkelman, and Maka Unufe, return to Hong Kong Stadium this year. The Eagles will kick off pool play with a single match – against Russia – Friday, April 7, before pool action resumes on Day Two of the tournament Saturday, April 8. The seventh leg of the Series can be streamed live in the United States via World Rugby’s Sevens Series website.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific/HBSC Hong Kong Sevens / HSBC Singapore Sevens

1. Anthony Welmers

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Matai Leuta

5. Mike Te’o

6. Andrew Durutalo

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Stephen Tomasin

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

13. Malon Al-Jiboori

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

v. Russia – Friday, April 7 @ 7:08 a.m. ET

v. Scotland – Saturday, April 8 @ 12:26 a.m. ET

v. Argentina – Saturday, April 8 @ 4:42 a.m. ET

Men's Eagles Sevens: Sydney 2017 preview

SYDNEY, Australia – HSBC Sydney 7s is hosting both men’s and women’s tournaments this weekend, with the fourth leg of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series set to begin Friday, Feb. 3 (U.S. time), between the Women’s Sevens Series knockout rounds.

Head Coach Mike Friday’s Men’s Eagles Sevens lost forward Brett Thompson to injury in the build-up week to last weekend’s HSBC Wellington Sevens and have made on addition to the squad of 13 in Chris Coyle for the tournament in Australia. The event can be viewed live in the United States on World Rugby’s website.


Without Thompson, the Eagles were down to 11 players heading into their first match at Westpac Stadium. Local U.S.-eligible athlete Pago Haini was called into the squad and made his Series debut for the U.S., which ended its weekend in the Challenge Trophy Semifinals.

Having put themselves behind the eight ball in Dubai to open the season, the Eagles stuck with a determined France team coming off of a Challenge Trophy victory in South Africa to earn two pool points with a draw in Wellington. The winning performance against Samoa – utilizing the same starting seven – was not by a wide enough margin with New Zealand still on the docket, and the home side’s late win kept the Eagles from the Cup Quarterfinals.

Perry Baker was taken out of the final pool match early after landing awkwardly in an attempt to keep the ball in play. Carlin Isles – in his first Series tournament since March 2016 – moved into the starting lineup for the U.S.’s Challenge Trophy Quarterfinal against Japan. The surprising Rio 2016 medal quarterfinalists benefitted from Eagle penalties to take a lead at halftime, but had no answer for Danny Barrett, whose brace of tries sent the Eagles to the Semifinals. Baker was able to return to the team on day two to bag his third try of the weekend in the losing effort.


Haini received minimal playing time as Friday’s squad channeled their attack through a similar group of seven throughout the tournament, and is included in the Sydney squad along with Arizona State University graduate Coyle. Coyle, a football player in Tempe, Ariz., moved over to Australia in 2015 to play his way into the Brumbies’ Super Rugby team. He has been on the Eagles’ radar since the move and will get his first opportunity to wear the U.S. jersey this weekend.

Despite missing more action than he would have liked in Wellington, Baker kept his name on World Rugby’s DHL Performance Tracker with his play in the fourth round. Accumulating more than 50 carries and 28 tackles in 16 games, Baker is tied for sixth in that table. He and captain Madison Hughes are also in the top 20 on the Series in scoring with 65 and 62 points, respectively, while Hughes’ 21 conversions place him in 11th.


Argentina finished Wellington in fifth with an impressive defeat of the home-town Kiwis in the Fifth-Place Playoff, its best performance thus far on the young season. Santiago Gomez Cora’s team has scored 343 points and a fifth-best 55 tries to hold a ninth-place standing after three rounds. Argentina has yet to face the Eagles this season, and will get its first opportunity to open Pool D play Friday night.

Canada ended Argentina’s hopes for a Cup Final appearance in New Zealand in the Quarterfinals before reaching the Bronze Medal Match. A mostly-unchanged squad from a disappointing start to the Series found its stride in Wellington, winning its pool before a second matchup with Scotland kept the U.S. border rival from a medal. Another first for the season, Canada will play the Eagles second in Pool D.

Russia retained its spot on the Series with a seven-point buffer in the standings ahead of Japan to finish the 2015-16 season, but has failed to truly impress in 13 tournaments as a core team. Having not reached the Cup Quarterfinal once in that span, the Bears have been on the receiving end of unfavorable pool draws. Russia was shut out by Canada in pool play last weekend and scored a few tries in a losing effort against the U.S. in Cape Town.


The Sevens Series broadcast is available to viewers in the United States live on World Rugby’s website. The Eagles kick off their campaign against Argentina at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday and play Canada for the first time this year at 8:58 p.m. before a break in the action for the Women’s Sevens Series knockouts. Pool play will conclude for Friday’s team at 2:23 a.m. ET.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s

1. Carlin Isles

2. Matai Leuta

3. Danny Barrett

4. Chris Coyle

5. Don Pati

6. Andrew Durutalo

7. Folau Niua

8. Connor Wallace-Sims

9. Stephen Tomasin

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

13. Pago Haini

Men’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s

v. Argentina – Friday, Feb. 3 @ 5:30 p.m. ET

v. Canada – Friday, Feb. 3 @ 8:58 p.m. ET

v. Russia – Saturday, Feb. 4 @ 2:23 a.m. ET