For the second year in a row a team from the USA national team setup won the Serevi RugbyTown 7s; last year it was the USA Falcons, and this year, it’s the Collegiate All Americans.
With no national all-star championship anymore, this tournament is the only opportunity for the All Americans to play, and play they did. They executed brilliantly, passing with accuracy, running smart lines, making their tackles, and putting aside any setbacks without getting down on themselves.
The performance was athletic, exciting, and, above all, mature.
“We did execute really well,” said Head Coach Tony Pacheco. “The guys played great and I think they were the most consistent team at the tournament. All of the guys are talented, but when you get an assembly like this, what you want is to get them buying into the same idea, the way we want to play. They did that. They saw the value in what we wanted to do and we went out and executed.”
Madison Hughes was brilliant, once again showing a startling turn of pace, great sidestepping ability – always with the ball in two hands, ready for the pass – and physicality.
“Madison is not a tall guy but he’s well put together and very strong,” said Pacheco. “Most opponents look at him and go straight at him, but he often makes them look silly.”
Hughes just finished his sophomore year at Dartmouth, and he combined with rising sophomores Tanner Barnes and Steve Thomasin as youngsters who have a lot more to give on the national 7s stage.
“What was great about all of these guys is that they played fast, but patiently as well,” added Pacheco. “A lot of college 7s is played at a million miles an hour, but they weren’t like that. We preached patience in attack and depth and angles, and they got the message.”
Barnes is part of a slew of Central Washington University players or alumni who have been big in 7s this summer, what with Patrick Blair, Kellen Gordon and Tim Stanfill helping Seattle-OPSB win a national club title, and Max Narewski and Barnes being a big part of a strong Chicago Lions squad. Blair does seem to have the ability to be a national team grafter in the mold of New Zealand’s DJ Forbes. Danny Barrett from Cal has elevated his game this year, and still others impressed.
“I was really happy with the way the Falcons played as well,” said Pacheco. The USA development group lost in the Bowl Final to Azul y Negro. But Jack McAuliffe raised his stock once again over the weekend and Oregon State’s Pono Haitsuka was something of a find in Glendale.
As for the All Americans, there were a lot of strong performances. Zac Mizell got hurt on the first day, but played well. Garrett Bender might have been rushed to the national team before, but is working his way back. Shaun Potgeiter, Joe Cowley, Glen Thommes and Ryan Roundy all have much to offer, and ZInzan Elan-Puttick was excellent for Arkansas State in 7s, and picked up where he left off with the All Americans.
The All Americans won $10,000 and an invitation to the Coral Coast 7s in Fiji in November. While they won’t be able to go to Fiji – it’s in the middle of the semester – the ten grand will come in handy, as the players paid to attend the event. The money will go toward ameliorating player costs.
Overall, this victory, following on the heels of last year’s win in the last 7s NASC, shows that the best college players can handle themselves against top men’s teams. Only one opponent, Tiger Rugby, really tested them. None beat them.
All Americans Roster
All Americans 54, Bermuda 7
All Americans 42, Azul y Negro 12
All Americans 26, Raptors 15
All Americans 43 Air Force 0
All Americans 19, Tiger Rugby 14
All Americans 31, Glendale Raptors 12