(Berkeley, California) 28 November 1999 -- The USA 7s team takes to Dubai this week to compete in the new international 7s series under the tutelage of new head coach Tommy Smith.
The 12-man playing squad features two new faces as well, in scrumhalf John McGeachy and wing Jovesa Naivalu. McGeachy was instrumental in leading Philadelphia-Whitemarsh to the national 7s title in 1999. Naivalu, who plays for San Mateo, has impressed selectors with his world-class speed.
After much speculation in the last 18 months, the International Rugby Board recently confirmed a World 7s Series for the 1999-2000 season comprising 10 tournaments. The circuit moves from Dubai to South Africa, through South America, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, and Japan, before finishing in France on May 29. Already the circuit is attracting increased television exposure and spectator interest in the 7-a-side game, but it poses a challenge for amateur nations such as the United States, which can expect to see more and more experienced, professional opponents as the circuit develops.
"The world series is a great development for the game and ultimately good for the USA side," commented USA 7s Director Keith Seaber, "but we can probably expect to see the standard of international competition quickly rise even higher than it is now, while our own growth will be more steady."
Meanwhile Seaber, Smith, and 7s squad manager John Tyler continue to search out and develop the best of American club players. They observed both the club and All-Star (ITT) National Championships this summer, and more recently held two elite athlete camps attended by more than 60 of the nation's best 7s players.
The camps in Kansas City and Palo Alto, California, started with the very basics such as passing drills, examined players' speed and fitness, and graduated to controlled scrimmages and setpiece work.
Camp attendees were eventually divided into teams for match practice which gave players the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the national side's game plan, and for coaches to further scrutinize players. The result was the Dubai selections and the development of a depth chart for the coming season.
"This was a good example of the spirit of American rugby," said John Tyler.
"The camps were self-funded and the players agreed to share costs so that
athletes coming long distances were not penalized. The Kansas City Blues
gave us a lot of help, and in California, friends and family generously
hosted a meal for the players. We are all determined to join the world
series with our best available players and the best preparation we can
United States: Nick Bell, Doug Brown, Craig Hartley, Kevin Henderson, Brian Hightower, Nelo Lui, John McGeachy, Jovesa Naivalu, Toshi Palamo, Steve Robke, Eric Tuipuloto, Don Younger.
Coach: Tommy Smith; Manager: Keith Seaber; Physiotherapist: Jeff Ward.
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