A Combined Services 7s team will compete in this weekend’s Best of the West Tournament at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
It’s an important step in the sport, as under the tireless work of Dom Budzisz rugby is trying to establish itself as a higher-profile sport in the military – especially with 7s being n Olympic sport.
Helping coach the team is former USA captain Kevin Swiryn. Swiryn, now retired from rugby and living in Seattle, was working with a youth team while the combined services players were waiting for their turn.
Swiryn saw them and just yelled “Hey, Army guys, start warming up!”
He got some ribbing for that, but he has taken the team under his wing since then.
“We've had some challenges,” Swiryn told RUGBYMag.com “But the guys are amazing. It's great working with them because they'll do whatever I ask and they're eager to get it done. They're so motivated it's ridiculous.”
Swiryn said the group of players, who really didn’t know each other, struggled early on, and he was concerned how they would compete.
“However, the guys have gotten so much better throughout the week and are looking competitive,” he said. “We've put together the best system we can in the few days we've been together and I think it suits these guys well. We have a few unbelievable bodies out there and my hope is we're able to utilize them the right way.”
The Combined Services team has been running two-a-days, with one at Fort Lewis and then with Swiryn in Seattle in the late afternoon. The squad is led in part by former All American flyhalf Andrew Locke, who was a standout at West Point.
“I had 1-on-1 meetings last night and let me just say, I respect the hell out of everyone one of them,” said Swiryn, who will be coach the University of Washington in the fall. “I'm honored to have been asked to coach this team and excited to see them, ‘go into combat,’ as they say - and I love it because they actually say that!”
Combines Services Squad
Locke, Andrew, Army, FT Lewis
Davidson, Cliff, Army, FT Sam Houston TX
Nieves, Paul, Army, FT Benning
Farrier, Daniel, Army, SFGG
Brenneman, Kenneth, Army, U of Wyoming
Vettraino, Tyler, Army, Alaska
Hundley, Matt, Army, FT Campbell
Harmon, Jay, Army, FT Lewis
Krause, Alex, Army, FT Lewis
Cutrell, Nathan, Army, FT Lewis
Conkey, Nate, Army, West Point
Millerd, Kyle, Navy, Corpus Christ
Joses, Elliot, Marine, Corpus Christ
Hartley, Erik, AF, New Zealand
Branham, Jeff, AF, Los Angeles
Townes, Jason, Marine, DC
Reed, Justin, Marine, Denver
Wiedemann, Thorsten, Army, German Nat Side
Briscoe, Taylor, Civ, Seattle/Olympia
Flynn, Kevin, Civ, Seattle