Las Vegas sevens to help U.S. push sport forward

Thu Feb 7, 2013 2:02am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The stakes are high for the United States as they head into their home round of the rugby sevens world series under pressure to perform, men's team coach Alex Magleby has said.

The Las Vegas tournament from February 8-10 is the fifth leg of the nine-stop series, and rankings points at its conclusion will determining seedings for the sevens World Cup in Moscow in June.

The Americans are tied for 14th in the standings with 18 points and a better placing in the Nevada tournament will help improve their position ahead of the tour's first promotion/relegation playoffs in May.

On top of that, the U.S. team has just received support from the United States Olympic Committee for the sport's debut at the 2016 Rio Games, and given the expectations from the world's most successful Olympic nation, the pressure is on Magleby's side.

"I think the first thing is, we have to win," Magleby told Reuters after the Wellington leg of the series. "We have guys who can compete, so we are tasked with winning.

"And if we win then more commercial opportunities will come and that's the start of greater things."

The Eagles only accrued one point from the Wellington tournament, losing 17-15 to Wales in the Shield semi-final.

Despite the poor final result, they showed glimpses of how strong they could be. They drew with eventual winners England 12-12 and pushed world series leaders New Zealand before losing 17-10 in pool play.   Continued...