USA wins historic Sevens World Series title
Second title ever for Eagles, first in Vegas
Coach Friday hails 'amazing' players
For the first time ever, the Las Vegas Sevens has a home champion.
The USA became the fifth different winner from five Sevens World Series tournaments so far this season after defeating Argentina 28-0 in Sunday’s final.
Two tries from Danny Barrett and one each from speedsters Carlin Isles and Perry Baker helped the hosts to a comfortable victory to the delight of Vegas’ Sam Boyd Arena.
An emerging force in the rugby world, it was the Eagles’ second ever title, the first coming in London in 2015.
“It’s amazing, I am so pleased for the boys and all credit to the men in the arena; absolutely Gladiator performances,” said head coach Mike Friday.
“They need to reflect and take all this in with their loved ones, on home soil and with a cup. Should they enjoy their moment and do they need to breathe it, smell it, be in it? Absolutely, they do.”
‘For the fans’
These are exciting times for US rugby. The Sevens World Cup comes to San Francisco in June and there’s every chance, after the weekend’s action, that a home champion could be crowned there, too.
With Argentina starring in its third final in as many years, this wasn’t the title-decider most would have predicted at the start of the tournament.
After topping its group, USA defeated England and Fiji – winners in Hamilton a few weeks ago – in the knock-out rounds.
Baker was the standout performer, making 11 breaks and topping the try-scoring charts with eight which included one dazzling score against Fiji that started on his own line. His Vegas showing takes his season tally to 25 tries.
“This is for the fans, man,” said Baker after the victory. “That’s the one reason why we won it. They came out here, they were in the cold, the wind was blowing, and they were amazing since Friday night. So we couldn’t help but go out and perform for those guys. They were amazing.”
Initially hopeful of making it in the NFL, a knee injury meant Baker was released by the Philadelphia Eagle in 2011. A latecomer to rugby, his electrifying pace has made him a valuable asset in the seven-a-side game.
He was clocked reaching a top speed of 37 km/h as he scampered back for a stunning try-saving tackle against Fiji, which picked up bronze after defeating South Africa in the third-place play-off.
Reigning champions the Blitzboks stay at the top of the World Series standings, 10 points clear of New Zealand in second and 13 from Australia in third.
There’s a quick turnaround in the championship as it moves North to Vancouver, Canada, with action getting underway Saturday.