Wednesday, December 09, 2009

USA Added to Suva Sevens Festival

The IRB 7's series is in full swing, and the United States Eagles are currently in George South Africa, prepping for the second leg of the series. However, the Eagles are not limiting their rugby to just the IRB series this year. Thanks to our good friends at UR 7' we know the USA Eagles will be partcipating in the Suva Sevens Festival in Fiji.

USA Rugby will send a team to next month’s Suva Rugby Festival to compete in the International Sevens section alongside teams from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong.

The USA side will head to George this weekend having lost in the semi-final of the Bowl to Wales in Dubai and will be hoping for an improved performance. It is tournaments such as the Suva Rugby Festival that some people believe USA need to begin to attend to reach their potential.

Despite an often slow start on the IRB Sevens World Series, USA have enjoyed their most succesful times in George.

But Suva Rugby Festival Organising Committee chairman, Vilikesa Rauca, noted that the USA Sevens team have not visited Fiji’s shores since February 2000 when Suva was a leg on the inaugural IRB World Sevens Series.

"The news that the USA team will return to Fiji gives the Digicel Suva Rugby Festival yet another boost," Rauca said.

“We are delighted that they complete the international draw, which we will announce next week.”

The International Sevens section of the Suva Rugby Festival will comprise eight teams from overseas with eight of Fiji’s top provinces and clubs that qualify through the Suva Series. Suva and Ratu Filise qualified last month, with two more set to be included after this Saturday’s tournament in Lautoka.

USA coach Al Caravelli first visited Fiji with the Eagles in 1994, then came back with the USA Atlantis team in 1996 and 1997, so he knows Fiji well.

"USA Rugby looks forward to returning to Fiji in January after a long lapse," Caravelli said. "Over the past three years, we have committed more resources to the national 7s programme and last year it started to bear fruit when the USA team earned the right to compete in all eight IRB 7s tournaments as a core team in the Series."

"With a brand new squad this year, we need more experience and that is why we have chosen to stay in Fiji for an extra week after the Festival to hold our preparations for Wellington and Las Vegas.'

"We still see Fiji as the spiritual home of 7s rugby, so we are very much looking forward to attending the Digicel Suva Rugby Festival, playing some great rugby, and spending time with local clubs before moving on to Wellington."

To be held January 15-23, 2010 at various venues in the capital, the Festival will involve more than 200 rugby teams and is the start of the build-up towards Suva Rugby’s centenary festivities in 2012.

USA will face Wales again in George, as well as Dubai finalists New Zealand and Samoa.

Suva second leg

The Suva Rugby Union executives have taken into consideration the plight of teams and cut down the second leg of the Digicel Suva 7s Series to a one-day tournament.

Only 48 teams have been accommodated from the earlier 64 that was anticipated.

SRU chairman Vilikesa Rauca said most teams had raised the issue of having to fork out more expenses for two days of action and they did not want to burden the sides.

"The cost factor for the teams has really been an issue and it makes it quite expensive for them," Rauca said.

He said most of the top clubs from around the west had confirmed their participation and while not all had paid their registration fees of $250, they were confident of getting in the required numbers in time.

"Most of the teams want to pay cash and this is why we have to go early to the west to get this sorted," he said.

"We don't have a problem with that because the teams have assured us of their participation."

Some of the teams confirmed include Army Green from Suva, Army Maroon from FTG, two teams from Nawaka, Ratu Filise, Red Rock, Wardens and PWD Bure.

The next leg is in Labasa on January 8, before the Rugby Festival on January 18.


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