Squad Announced For Gold Coast Sevens
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Following the latest of the three Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camps, Head Coach Mike Friday has selected the traveling squad for Gold Coast Sevens, the first stop of the 2014-15 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series.
Sixty-one athletes were tested and pushed to the limits at the Olympic Training Center at camps held throughout the summer. The 12 selected for Gold Coast Sevens have proved to the Eagles coaching staff they can help the team pursue Olympic qualification.
“There have been some tough decisions in putting this 12 together and I have to hand it to those boys that have gained selection for the hard work they have put in over that last few months,” Friday said. “Whilst non-selections are disappointing to the boys that have missed out, it will fuel their fire to push on and compete for the next tour as competition makes for a healthy squad and an honest, hard-working environment.”
Familiar faces on the team include Residency Eagles Andrew Durutalo, Nic Edwards, Carlin Isles, Zack Test, and Maka Unufe. Perry Baker will be making his first appearance on the Sevens World Series circuit, while Danny Barrett will be available after his trial at Aviva Premiership’s Gloucester Rugby. Garrett Bender, who was selected to three of last season’s tournaments, will also travel to Australia.
Dartmouth College’s Madison Hughes was named captain by the coaching staff. The 21-year-old scored 98 points in three Series stops last season.
Bender captained Washburn to a championship in the Minnesota high school state rugby championship. He was recruited as a linebacker at St. Cloud State but shifted focus to rugby soon after. Bender was playing for the Eastside Banshees at the 2011 Men’s Club 7s National Championship when he was seen by selectors for the Midwest All-Star Sevens team. He earned recognition in the Men’s Eagles Sevens pool in October 2011.
Durutalo made his Men’s Eagles debut in 2012 with three caps against Canada, Georgia, and Italy. He is in the Men’s Eagles Sevens Residency Program at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Test was selected for the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans and made his Men’s Eagles Sevens debut during the 2008-09 IRB Sevens World Series. He has been a mainstay on the team since and currently leads all active players in tries scored (as of the end of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series. He has also won the bronze medal with the Men’s Eagles Sevens at both the 2009 Maccabi Games and the 2011 Pan American Games.
Originally from Allentown, PA, Wyles picked up his rugby skills while growing up in England. He first represented the USA Sevens team in 2007 in Hong Kong and went on to professional stardom playing for Saracens of the English Premiership.
With 13 USA Sevens team caps and 54 caps on the 15s side, Chris is one of the most experienced players on the squad.
Growing up outside of Denver, Ben made his way onto the rugby pitch in High School being named club MVP two years in a row before attending Colorado State University. In 2013-24, he was named to the Under-20 mens team and made the final squad selected for the Hong Kong Sevens.
Hughes was a member of the USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-American team that won the 2012 IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Utah. He also pulled on the AIG MCAA jersey in 2013 and 2014 on tours of New Zealand and New England, respectively. Hughes won the 2013 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens Cup with Tony Pacheco's MCAA 7s squad and was selected to four stops of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series. On the circuit, Hughes has accumulated 98 points.
Niua began his rugby career with the East Palo Alto Razorbacks, winning a Division II National Championship in 2009. He also won a Rugby Super League title with San Francisco Golden Gate. Niua made his international debut with the Men’s Eagles Sevens at the 2011 Pan American Games, where he started at fly half and led the team in scoring with 41 points on the way to a bronze medal. In 15s, he earned his first of seven career caps against Canada on August 17, 2013. Niua spent part of the 2013-14 Guinness Pro12 season with Glasgow Warriors before returning to the Residency program at the Olympic Training Center.
A standout rugby star at Ohio State, Nate competed in the first Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2010. He went on to become a safety for the National Football League's New England Patriots, making him the only Super Bowl winning champion in the history of rugby to play on the men's national team. All eyes will be on Nate as he represents the epitome of America's cross-over athlete talent pool that is waiting to be tapped as the U.S. increases its global ruby profile.
Barrett helped the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans defeat a combined New Zealand Universities side during the MCAAs’ New Zealand Tour in June 2013 with a try. He was also a member of the San Francisco Golden Gate sevens team at the inaugural World Club 7s at Twickenham Stadium in 2013. Barrett also scored a try in the Eagles Select XVs’ win against Canada at the 2013 IRB Americas Rugby Championship in Langford, British Columbia.
Unufe played football at Provo High School before making a name for himself playing rugby for the Utah Warriors at the Club 7s Nationals in 2011. He made his international debut with the Men’s Eagles Sevens at the 2011 Pan American Games, helping the Eagles win the bronze medal. Unufe’s first appearance on the IRB Sevens World Series was at Wellington Sevens in 2012.
Isles was an All-American in the 60 meter dash at Ashland University, running a personal best of 6.68 seconds. Isles was also an All-GLIAC selection on the Ashland University football team and still holds school records for most kickoff return yardage in a game and longest kickoff return for a touchdown. Isles earned a Residency contract with the Men’s Eagles Sevens. Isles was one of the leading try-scorers on the Eagles during the 2012-13 IRB Sevens World Series. Isles returned to the Olympic Training Centre in 2014 following a stint with the Glasgow Warriors of the Guinness Pro12
After two years with the Arena Football League's Pittsburgh Power, Baker picked up rugby in Daytona Beach before training at Tiger Academy. He was invited to the Residency Program at the Olympic Training Center in 2014.