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Perry Baker missing as veteran returns to lead USA SVNS

By Chris Jones
USA's Ben Pinkelman is tackled by Jamaica's Ronaldeni Fraser as he scores a try against Jamaica during the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Sevens tournament at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia, Canada, on August 20, 2023. Rugby Americas North Sevens is a rugby sevens Paris 2024 Qualification Event. (Photo by Don MacKinnon / AFP) (Photo by DON MACKINNON/AFP via Getty Images)

Ben Pinkelman has been handed the captaincy of the USA Eagles as they launch their HBSC SVNS campaign in Dubai, but they will be operating without veteran speedster Perry Baker who has been rested after helping clinch qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in France.


The Eagles are in the same pool in Dubai as double Olympic champions Fiji, Great Britain and France and head coach Mike Friday is looking forward to the new 12 team format for the competition having seen his team earn their Olympic place at the RAN Sevens Qualifier in Langford, British Columbia.

Baker, who is third in the all time sevens try scoring charts with 263, is 37-years-old but remains a key figure in the squad and is set to feature later in the competition.

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Friday said: “We are very much looking forward to the challenge of this new 12 team format, which will not only be even more insanely competitive and unforgiving but in this Olympic season and with global rugby stars like Antoine Dupont gracing the pitch, the excitement and competition will be at an all time high.

“We very much have an exciting young squad of players bookended by the returning veteran players of Ben Pinkelman and Madison Hughes, who will make their return after two and half years.

“We are under no illusion of the task that lies ahead in Dubai and Cape Town, and we have to give these young men the support and confidence to attack the challenge. With the power and speed we possess, if we can control our possession and we certainly have the capability to compete and beat any team.

“Minimizing unforced errors will be important as these young men find their way and a robust work ethic and resilience to stay in every battle.”


Madison Hughes returns to the USA lineup and is targeting a third Olympics having taken a break from Eagles representation after the 2020 Olympics. Ben Broselle also returns following an injury sustained last January that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

With the USA having failed to qualify for this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, it falls to Friday’s sevens squad to restore the Eagles rugby reputation on the world stage.



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Flankly 224 days ago

I expect they will see a big drop in audience figures with the SVNS format.

I used to watch, but have no interest now that the series-level competition is devalued.

They seemhave have missed the point that all the drama is about the end to end season, as it is for most team sports.

KELLY 226 days ago

Hopefully the IRB WR 7s rugby circuit RE imagine their format even more and change the way they format their games very soon, so all the top teams play each other often. Otherwise why watch the 7s IRB rugby circuit when it’s not a real competition.
This new IRB format is a nonsense format and is much worse than old IRBs formatted circuit, where no teams form counts until the last round. Like having 40 odd practice games. As none of the six first rounds games really count for anything as only the top eight teams make the final anyway, which will mean the top for teams could come 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th in the IRBs 7s circuits FINAL round.
The old IRB ladder system was much better ranking system that found the most consistent team as the IRB’s FINALIST!
Especially when the past IRBS 7s format usually meant that only the top teams could win this bias tournament, which makes the IRB 7s circuit very boring!
Presently the IRB champions aren’t the real champions as a team of champions beats a big pool of evenly ranked teams at every IRB circuit, that aren't necessarily the teams that make final. Making the comp worth watching because presently winning on the IRB circuit depends on who you play, and even those games are all meaningless until the last round. Making the game a shame not a game!
By having all of their IRB 7s series top 12 teams put in TWO pools of six teams, ranked in each pool from the previous IRB sevens ladder standings. POOL ONE 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11: POOL TWO 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12:
Would create a real competition as then all the IRB circuit teams would regularly play each other. Then have all the teams by rank from each pool play the other pools teams by rank. Meaning Pool A’s ranked teams would play Pool B’s teams by rank, all the way down to the 6th ranked team in both Pools.
Ie Pool A 1st versus Pool B 1st, Pool A 2nd versus Pool B 2nd, 3rd versus 3rd – 4th versus 4th -5th versus 5th – 6th versus 6th. Which means each team would play six games each to get ranked correctly. Which would be great spectator wise. Which is 66 odd competitive games spread over two/three days.
Or 132 games in the men’s and women’s divisions held over 2/3 days, which should be accomplishable. With 14 manned squads for nutrition and two or three rugby fields at each location?
And by having the bottom four teams after the IRB circuit having to challenge the top two teams from the challenging series. Would create a pool of 6 teams playing in a round robin or three to make the top four as core teams. To RE merge with the IRBs top 8 IRB teams for the next years IRB circuit. Giving the new challenging teams ‘time’ to develop their game!
They also need to evolve the rules of the game to speed the game up a heap to save time to score more tries, the games have become predictable and boring!
Making the 7s IRB circuit very good to watch that would eventually pay for itself, ‘you’d think!
                  POOL ONE;-----------------POOL TWO;
1st NEW ZEALAND------------------2nd ARGENTINA
3rd FRANCE---------------------------4th FIJI 5th AUSTRALIA-----------------------6th SAMOA
7th SOUTH AFRICA------------------8th IRELAND 9th USA---------------------------------10th GREAT BRITIAN
11th SPAIN----------------------------12th CANADA
 POOL ONE;-----------------POOL TWO;
1st NEW ZEALAND------------------2nd AUSTRALIA 3rd USA--------------------------------4th FRANCE
5th IRELAND-------------------------6th FIJI
7th GREAT BRTIAN-----------------8th JAPAN
9th CANADA-------------------------10th SPAIN 11th BRAZIL-------------------------12TH CHINA
By Adopting these five 7s rugby ELVS would mean all the squads on the 7s rugby IRB circuit could win a tournament or two. And would stop the IRB circuit’s predictable boring outcomes?
Who wants to watch a one-sided comp where many squads can’t win it because of its rules? What are ELVs for. These rules would speed the game up and improve its spectacle dramatically. In the order they’re in?
The IRB sevens squads need to have 14 in their squads to have a seven manned bench to help rehydrate the team if these five 7s EVLs were used?
1/ Seven points awarded for a try under the posts, would save a lot of time, to get more tries.
2/ Use the drop goal-line drop-out. Which should already be a law as it’s very hard in sevens rugby to hold a player up over the goal-line, and that type of defence deserves a break. To get to kick the ball away from their goal-line!
3/ All conversions to be taken by the person who scored the try, even if it’s a forward because a scrubbed conversion by a forward would create plenty of time for an extra try or six. Making it far easier to get six quick unconverted tries to win, than to get 4 converted tries to ‘WIN’ a game.
4/ Having one-minute yellow cards for all deliberate knocks-ons and for some cynical game momentum changing fouls, that stops a try from being scored. Would suit any team as having two-minute ‘yellow cards’ is far too long and destroys the games spectacle.
5/ Having two-minute replacement red cards” for dangerous play, and put that player on TMO ‘RE view for a game or for a few game suspensions.

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