POOL D: French Armed Forces, Tiger Rugby Cubs, Cayman Islands, Mexico Serpiente
French Armed Forces
Based on the global expansion of the 7s game, the French Armed Forces (FAF) 7s Team was created in 2006 and now comes together four times a year to compete in numerous European 7s tournaments in across France, Switzerland, and other parts of the continent. This team is composed of the best 7s rugby players from the four branches of the of the French Armed Forces including the French Army, French Navy, French Air Force and Military Police.
The FAF team returns to Glendale for the SRS, having placed 2nd in last year’s inaugural International Defense Sevens tournament and has found recent success on the field winning the Stanislas-Sevens tournament in May by beating Polish and German national teams.
Tiger Rugby Cubs
Based out of Columbus, Ohio and Southern California, Tiger Rugby is another part of USA Rugby’s Olympic Development Program, bringing a team and program to Infinity Park that is deep, experienced, and potent. Led by three time National Championship winning rugby coach James Walker and Paul Holmes, Tiger Rugby is expanding its program and facilities to be one of the premier development programs in the country.
2013 has been another strong year for this team, including running undefeated in pool play and playing in the Plate semi-finals in this year’s Las Vegas Invitational. Following the SRS, the team heads to Kenya to play in the Safari/Safaricom Sevens tournament at the end of September – surely another strong test for this team.
As the team often does, the Cubs appear to be pulling strong players from around the country for this tournament, including Perry Baker from Daytona and Dallas Reds Chad Joseph and Kelly Kolberg.
Under the guidance of Richard “Grizz” Adams (perhaps the coach with the best name in the tournament), the Cayman team is using the SRS as a benchmark for measuring the development and professionalization of their rugby program in advance of November’s North American and Caribbean Rugby (NACRA) Championships and of course the 2016 Olympics in Rio. As with many small nations, the addition of the 7s game to the Olympics has opened the door to compete on the highest level with large nations who typically dominate team sports.
At the SRS it will be interesting to see the on-field impact of Strength and Conditioning professional (and pro cyclist) Dave Clancy, who is supporting Cayman development efforts through a Commonwealth Games Federation grant. This Irishman brings a wealth of knowledge on the 7s game from time in Samoa, and of course the conditioning background needed to succeed in 7s. Also bolstering the team’s efforts in Glendale will be Morgan Williams - former captain and coach of Canada’s 7s team.
Players to watch on the squad travelling to Glendale include Mark Soto, Edward Westin, Paul Westin, Jonathan Murphy, Richard Lewis, Chris Kennedy, Josh Brown, Chris Palmer, Alex Harvey, Mike Wilson, Andrew Ibeh and Phil Fourie.
Director of Rugby Adams has stated that the Cayman’s goal is to be a top three team in the region by 2020, only behind Canada and the U.S. A strong showing at Infinity Park would go a long ways towards those lofty goals.
The Mexican National team – known as the Serpiente – head back to the state of Colorado again this year, having competed at the Denver 7s in July. Led by Simon Pierre, the Serpiente hope to build on positive results of late, having taken 3rd place in last year’s NACRA 7s – a result that jumped the team from 7th to 3rd in the regional rankings. The Serpiente also competed in Hong Kong this year, hitting some tough competition in Russia, Zimbabwe, and Cook Islands, but gaining experience that is sure to benefit them at the SRS.