Reeling from injuries during the completion of the 2022 season together with some early season unavailabilities, USA 7s Head Coach Mike Friday has selected a very youthful squad with three up and coming players looking to make their USA debut.
With a shortened Olympic cycle ahead of Paris 2024, the Men’s Sevens are ready to bring the next generation of core players to the world stage and attack their qualification season. Hong Kong Sevens starts Friday, November 3 with the USA first taking on Spain at 4:28AM ET, live on Peacock.
The USA Men’s Sevens have not played in Hong Kong since 2019, with COVID challenges postponing the notable series stop, a significantly different roster of players will run out at Hong Kong Stadium from the last visit.
The magic and energy of Hong Kong is globally known, where 8 of the traveling 13 players will dip their toes into the experience for the first time.
With injuries and limitations to Captain Kevon Williams, Stephen Tomasin, Maka Unufe, Joe Schroeder, Naima Fuala’au and Faitala Talapusi keeping them sidelined for this early season edition, quite a few opportunities will arise for second year players and a three prospects looking to start their sevens journey.
Cal Bear Sam Walsh will join a pair of Indiana products in Noah Brown and Will Chevalier, three collegiate standouts who have been in development with the USA Men’s Sevens program for some time now. Brown and Chevalier both recently competed with the USA U23s at RugbyTown 7s, impressively finishing runner up against some of the best in international rugby.
Walsh has ventured a different route, recovering from an ACL injury and working with Friday’s staff over the past six months, on his way to his first series selection.
Rookie sensation, Lucas Lacamp will miss the first Hong Kong trip with school commitments at UCLA as will another exciting prospect WCAP man Jake Lachina who was in line to debut but is now unable to travel for this leg.
Pool play will be a build up for the USA, facing off with Spain, Japan and lastly Fiji across two days. Spain saw much improvement over the course of last season and will be a quality test for this young USA squad. Unique to the three-day tournament set up of Hong Kong Sevens, the Spain match will also be the only game played on Friday, a unique cadence for the younger players to draw from. Pool play will conclude on Saturday with fixtures against Japan and Rugby World Cup Sevens winners, Fiji. Fiji will present the biggest challenge for the USA, however no match is without opportunity for each player to grow and immerse themselves in the bright lights of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Head Coach Mike Friday’s comments on quick return to the world circuit:
“This has been an insanely quick turnaround following the completion of last season. As a program, we have been going nonstop for a year and we need to maintain focus entering this big nine month period and Olympic qualifying year. What lies ahead for this developing group is a huge challenge, so patience and perspective are paramount. However, the drive, determination and commitment to get better burns brightly in this group. We are all aware of the corner we’re in for this opening leg. With significant veteran experience currently recovering from injury and the rearranged tournament coming a month too soon for us. To be missing the majority of our leaders in Kevon, Joe and Stevie, further compounded by Maka, Naima and Tala not yet in a position to be considered for selection, puts us in a tough spot. We acknowledge the squad is raw and inexperienced with a combined 148 caps, Perry having 56 of them, but we are also fit, balanced, physical, unpredictable on attack and ready to rise to the opportunity of representing the country, one game at a time.
This is a tricky pool as Spain are a hugely resilient group who have been knocking at the door as a top 8 team for a couple of years. Japan will be revitalized and far more organized under Simon Amor and Fiji, as we know, are the Kings of sevens. We are under no illusion on the task ahead, but excited and prepared to challenge this young group to collectively execute in the moments. Buckle up for game one!”