POOL C: U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Army 7s team comes into Infinity Park with high expectations for strong play given their recent championship at the U.S. Military Memorial Cup, which was held in concert with the CRC in Philadelphia earlier this summer. This team is unique because of the blend of different types of players with a variety of day jobs and backgrounds. With nine Active Duty players and three Army National Guard players, the team includes:
- Two U.S. Eagles in Specialist Nu'u Punimata (USA 7s, Seattle-OPSB, Utah National Guard) and Second Lieutenant Will Holder (USA XVs, West Point).
- Six alumni from West Point including Major Nate Conkey, Captain Andy Locke, Captain Dan Geib, First Lieutenants Dave Geib and Dan Moulton, and Second Lieutenant Will Holder.
- Two current university players including Private First Class Austin Taylor (Univ. of Utah, Utah National Guard) and Private First Class Keoni Hamala (Univ of Utah, Utah National Guard).
- Three players haling from American Samoa including First Lieutenant Fusi Lutu, Specialist Jerald Saafi, and Specialist Matti Tago.
In Glendale Head Coach Colonel Mark Drown and his Army team will be looking to improve on their 4th place showing in the 2012 Armed Forces Championships. Drown and his coaching staff have spent the last year focusing on player identification and development, which will be put to the test in Pool C against their brothers from all branches of the military.
U.S. Coast Guard
For U.S. Coast Guard Rugby, the 2013 SRS comes during a celebratory campaign of the team’s 30th year of existence – quite a milestone for this group. An interesting side note is that rugby is the Coast Guard’s only team sport, with Coasties who play other sports competing for positions on U.S. Navy teams.
Like many other clubs (military or not), the Coast Guard is looking to leverage recent momentum in XVs to smooth their transition to the growing 7s game. This team took 2nd place in the final two XVs Armed Forces rugby tournaments and look to build on that success while at Infinity Park. A big challenge for the Coast Guard, and one faced by the other Armed Forces teams, is fielding the best team around their players operational commitments protecting our country. The team has been fortunate to have former Eagle Riaan Hamilton guide them through that transition and serve as coach for the 2012 and 2013 Armed Forces tournaments.
In Glendale, keep an eye on forwards Scott Garren and Tyson Buchmeier who are workhorses, while Alex Vinkavich can be explosive offensively and can be counted on to deliver solid defense.
The U.S. Marines march into this year’s SRS as the defending Armed Forces Champions ready to “do everything in our power to defend our title”. We’re not sure we’d doubt this group with an attitude and the talent to do just that.
In preparation for Glendale, the Marines trained in early August at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Chula Vista, California under new Eagles 7s Coach Matt Hawkins, which included an intense round robin pool featuring the San Diego Old Aztecs, the U.S. Naval Academy, and two teams of Marines.
Since a less than desirable 4th place performance at the CRC in Philadelphia this past May, this Marines team has been playing in the Southern California 7s National Qualifier circuit this summer including match-ups with OMBAC, Santa Monica, Belmont Shore, and Old
Aztecs. The Marines brought home some hardware during the circuit and ended on a great performance several weeks back when they beat OMBAC and Old Aztecs with their only loss to Belmont Shore and ultimately taking 2nd place.
Marine players to watch at the SRS include:
- Second Lieutenant Nick Hancock whose tremendous speed and great play put him in the conversation for the All-tournament team at the CRC in May where he played for the U.S. Naval Academy.
- Three players named to the All-Armed Forces Team in 2012 are returning this year including First Lieutenant Elliot Josies who played in the CRC in 2010 with the Naval Academy and spent this past January training with the Eagles at the OTC as an international 7s Prospect; First Lieutenant Sean Rohrs who played at the CRC for the Naval Academy in 2010 and 2011 and kicked the game winning Conversion in the 2012 Armed Forces Championship against Air Force; and Corporal Josh Barry – a young inspiration with local ties, who has history playing from School Boy to High School to Division 1 right in Glendale (keep an eye and ear out for his family in stands this weekend).
Along with these established players, several Marines will be making their Serevi RugbyTown Sevens debut including:
- Second Lieutenant Matt Kelley, a three-year varsity hooker for the U.S. Naval Academy.
- Captain Rob Kelm who earned some hardware this summer with the Quantico 7s team in Virginia.
- Private First Class Kalanie Aholalei it seems played high school rugby in Southern California and brings his all-star experience from the 2012 Southern California Griffins.
- Sergeant George Davis of the San Diego Old Aztecs and formerly Virginia Tech brings a decade of experience to the field.
- Corporal Wiley Flowers is a football crossover athlete who played safety for the Miramar Football team, and;
- Corporal Timosi Kawa – a Fijian born scrum half who led the Atlanta Renegades to the National Championship in the recent past.
U.S. Air Force
A traditional powerhouse in the military XVs game, USAF is going through the transition like many of the military teams to the faster paced 7s game. The team placed 2nd at the Armed Forces Championship last year, narrowly losing out to a strong Marines team in the finals and held their own in a tough group at this year’s Las Vegas Invitational against the likes of the USA Falcons, US Army, and international teams such as Iceland and Chile.
We’re sure that Head Coach Major Andy McQuade will have his team ready for what will be a battle in this tough Pool, but expect them to again compete well against their fellow military teams.
Fed by Midshipmen from across the U.S. Navy, the “All-Navy Rugby” 7s team sails into Glendale looking to build on their 3rd place finish at last year’s inaugural 7s Rugby Armed Forces Championship.
This team is made up of players who are selected to attend the trial camp compete for roster spots. Once the All-Navy Team is selected, the players train under Head Coach Steve Lynch and compete in several scrimmages prior to the Armed Forces Championships and SRS.