Navy 7s Ready to do Better
The United States Naval Academy 7s team is very aware it could have done better in the last two USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship tournaments.
Overall their record is 2-6-1. That might be a function of the fact that Navy’s straight-ahead 15s style hasn’t been conducive to 7s. Or maybe it’s just a little bit of bad luck. After all, three of their four losses in 2011 were by a try or less. Over the two tournaments, Navy has only been outmatched twice – once 24-0 but eventual 2010 champs Utah, and an opening meltdown against North Carolina in 2011, a 38-7 loss that was simple best forgotten.
Their other five non-wins (a tie and four close losses) had an average score of 11-14. Obviously they are close.
“We know we need to step up,” said Head Coach Mike Flanagan. “This is an important tournament for us. The guy who owns the tournament has been a big supporter of our program. We will work our damndest to play well as long as we’re invited.”
Flanagan is referring to A. Jon Prusmack, who owns USA 7s (and RUGBYMag.com for that matter), and also donated to the Prusmack Rugby Center at the Naval Academy. So, yes, the pressure is on for the Midshipmen to play well in Philadelphia.
“Our preparation I think is the best we’ve had,” said Flanagan. “I actually think it’s helped us to concentrate on playing our season in the spring. We are able to build to this.”
Having said that, Flanagan said Navy Rugby will be playing a lot more 7s in the fall, modeling what a lot of other college teams have decided to do.
On the field, Navy has one of the best loose forwards in the college loose forward business in Seamus Seifring, who will lead from the front, and they add some excellent players such as Spencer Wilson.
But the guy to really watch is a freshman. Jack McAuliffe was a standout for the High School All Americans when they played in the Las Vegas Invitational HS elite 7s in 2011, and has been superb at flyhalf for Navy in his first year. He can change a game at 7s, and his distribution skills are such that by virtue of being on the team, he creates width for the Navy attack.
“We try to model South Africa in the way we play,” said Flanagan. “We create space by attacking the middle. But we are looking to play a more wide open game. We feel the expectation to do better.”
Article source: http://www.rugbymag.com/tournaments-special/crc/4733.html
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