Sevens stars and the MLR-effect – why USA could be RWC banana skin

A year ago Gary Gold guided the USA to a historic win over Scotland and now the Eagles head coach is planning to use the international success of the country’s sevens team to boost their confidence at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. Fans from all over the World can book Rugby World Cup Final Tickets online.

Mike Friday’s USA Eagles sevens held the No.1 ranking until piped for the title in the final tournament by Fiji and three of the players who helped secure automatic qualification for next the 2020 Olympic Games Sevens have been drafted into the 15’s training squad that assembles in Colorado this weekend for an intensive nine-week period of preparation for the Pacific Nations Cup and the World Cup pool matches with England, France, Argentina, and Tonga.

Sevens stars and the MLR-effect - why USA could be RWC banana skin
Sevens stars and the MLR-effect – why USA could be RWC banana skin

Gold believes the experience of sevens captain Madison Hughes, Ben Pinkelman and Martin Iosef, who beat all of the major rugby nations on a regular basis, allied to that 30-29 win over Scotland in Houston last year can help convince his players they are capable of causing real problems in one of the toughest pool in the World Cup.

He told Rug bypass: It is feasible that Madison, Martin and Ben could be in the final squad for the World Cup and these guys grew up playing 15’s before moving over to the sevens. The other factor is that there is very different confidence around the seven guys because of what they have achieved on the World stage and I am hoping there will be a genuine cross over and understanding of what we can achieve.

Mike turned that sevens squad around in a short space of time and while I am not saying we are going to win the World Cup, I am hoping we can put up really big performances and we could be a banana skin for one of those teams. Our win over Scotland this time last year followed by the win over a full Samoa team in Spain plus the Sevens success allied to a settled squad gives us real confidence.

 “We start our camp this weekend in Colorado and this squad of players really does know each other well having been together for 18 months and our aim is to put up some great performances at the World Cup. As much as we can, we will try and replicate the conditions in Japan during our preparations.”

Sevens stars and the MLR-effect - why USA could be RWC banana skin
Sevens stars and the MLR-effect – why USA could be RWC banana skin

Gold added: “The MLR is single-handedly the biggest game-changer for us. When I started at the end of 2017 in this job, I met up with the players in Germany and there were guys in the middle of their European seasons and those from America who had not picked up a ball for three or four months.”

The MLR final was played at a packed stadium and was televised by CBS and people love it. Now, we have to make sure that financially the game is in a good place and there has been a really important decision to move the American Rugby Championship to August and September and with that one decision they have ensured they won’t be in a club v country problem. It’s a smart decision and will make a really big difference.

“The one area of concern is the number of foreigners in the MLR and that is something that will have to be addressed.”

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