The US Military will have a massive presence at the Las Vegas Invitational, with 7s players from the World-Class Athlete Program (WCAP) in action, and six military teams in four different divisions.
A Combined Services women’s team will compete in the 24-team Women’s Open 7s. In the Men’s Elite 7s, the Combined Services will play, while in the Aces 7s teams representing the Air Force, Army, and Navy will compete. The Air Force will also have a team in the Men’s Open bracket.
(Players from the Coast Guard and Marine Corps will, as is tradition, play for Navy if they have no team of their own.)
The Armed Forces men’s team could field one or two of the WCAP players, but will certainly pitch up with the US Army’s Nate Conkey, US Navy tall man Kyle Miller, and former West Point standout Dave Geib.
“We have a good cross-section of players from different military backgrounds,” said US Army National Guard Maj. Mark Drown. “What we want to do is expose as many players as we can to a high level of rugby.”
Also hugely influential in organizing the team is Nic Punimata, US Army ret., whose son, Nu'u, is in the WCAP and on the USA 7s team. Punimata has helped coach and manage military teams at the LVI for years.
The teams will showcase perhaps 60 players. Many of them will spend the week leading up to the LVI in Las Vegas. They will train with Serevi Rugby coaches and there’s word that they might also scrimmage a major international side.