The Five Most Intriguing Men's Teams At Club 7s Nationals

Judy Teasdale wooching-psalm-seattle-2016-1.jpg

The USA Rugby Club 7s Championships kick off on Saturday in Minneapolis, and we're taking a look at the teams you might want to watch a little more closely.

As usual, this is a combination of established clubs and teams formed just for the summer. Often the summer-only teams look really good on paper, but it's the seasoned clubs that win because of their unity honed through the years. Even if those clubs make one or two personnel additions, their new players have a lot easier time joining an established group.

Still, we like all kinds of teams, from the groups that don't win at the highest level in 15s but make the summer pay off to the familiar names that are always in contention to the upstart squads looking for a breakthrough result.

Here are five men's teams worth watching:

Washington Athletic Club

Well, you knew we'd notice this one anyway, because of this editor's work with the WAC on the Scholz and Sorensen Awards. But it's worth noting, anyway. The Washington Athletic Club is a sports club in downtown Seattle and has a long history of supporting elite athletes. With many members of the Seattle Saracens members and working out or rehabbing there, the WAC made the next logical step to sponsor an Olympic (i.e., 7s) rugby team.

[tweet url="" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
They've got some familiar faces in Mike Palefau, Aladdin Schirmer, Shalom Suniula, Peter Tiberio, Will Rasileka, Psalm Wooching, and former Arkansas State standout Paul Benade. But it all goes through the leadership of Palefau.

Optimus Rugby

Completely and utterly a team made for the summer. Their players are fairly young, mostly from the South, and it's a smart attempt to find the right combination of talent out of that region to compete at the national level. Some crucial veteran leadership (Nathan Rogers) and good coaching from Ronn Omondi makes them a team you've never heard of that might be worth remembering.

Rugby Utah

While made for 7s, Rugby Utah are an established team as the defending champs. They won the Denver 7s, play a very exciting and open style, and boy are they stacked with talent. Basically they take a couple veteran winners (Don Pati, for example) and surround them with some of the best talent from the University of Utah and BYU.

[tweet url="" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
The Utes' best players were Chad Gough and Gabe Ruflin, and they're on the Rugby Utah squad. Josh Whippy, Zach Webber, and Jackson Kaka are excellent BYU players, and they're also on the team. Havea Unufe is someone who can break a game open. They have already shown they can put the pieces together.

Chicago Lions

The Lions have a well-organized summer program and bring in players that have talent but also fit their style of play. The process has worked well and functioned nicely as a recruiting vehicle. This year, they've got young players with USA experience such as JP Eloff and Mike Ziegeler. They've also got veterans who know how to win games in Eddie Bluemel and Jordan Highberger, and they add in some really good undergraduate or just-graduated talent.

[tweet url="" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
Tyler Sousley played 7s for the USA U20s and is still at Indiana. Jake Hidalgo is a big try-scorer from Indiana. Nick Feakes is a playmaker from Lindenwood. And Tom Kacor is a No. 8 from Western Michigan who can sometimes play flyhalf and whose skillset could make him a breakout star at this week's tournament.

Oh, and former Eagle David Fee coaches them.


This is another team put together for the summer, and you wonder if the whole is quite the sum of its parts yet. Their veteran leaders are Eric Lalley and Fili Botitu. Now, Botitu can score a try out of nothing, but he needs to use his teammates, and it's a disparate group. Tim Stanfill is a capped Eagle, and he and Mike Nelson won national titles with Botitu on Old Puget Sound (and then Seattle Saracens). But Stanfill is kind of a straight-ahead, I'm-going-to-score player. So, too, is Lorenzo Thomas out of Lindenwood (also capped by the USA).

Jihad Khabir is a brilliant 7s prospect with a smooth running style that makes people miss, but he has to work with his support, too. Can Nelson and Adrian Ray (like Khabir, a standout at AIC) keep everyone looking in the same direction? Do they have enough power to go with the speed and elusiveness?

This is a fascinating team, because it has the talent to win it all but could fall apart if it doesn't find the right glue.

NY 7s Gets Boost From Hong Kong


The New York Sevens will give a nod to another iconic 7s tournament, and its host city, this weekend as the tournament kicks off.

New York 7s Headlines FloSports Weekly Viewing Guide

New York 7s

From elite rugby to early-season NCAA basketball tournaments this weekend has a live event for every die-hard sports fan. Headlining the FloSports Weekly Viewing Guide is New York 7s on If you have Apple TV 4 or Roku, watch this live event and more from the convenience of your home. Keep scrolling to see what else is happening across the FloSports Network.

Eagle Men's 7s Team's Chase For Top 4 Begins In Dubai

Ian Muir Martin Iosefo Silicon Valley 7s

After finishing second in the Silicon Valley Sevens warmup tournament earlier this month, the USA men's team is set to return to action for the Dubai Sevens next week.

New Jersey Teams Ready To Rock At NY 7s

David Barpal lvi-d2-1023.jpg

After completing their fall sevens series, players from Rugby New Jersey are now looking to show their stuff at the New York Sevens this weekend.

RLWC QFs: NZ Out, Island Nations In

NRL Photos RLWC QFs Tonga v Lebanon 2 NRLPhotos.jpeg

In a dramatic weekend at the Rugby League World Cup, New Zealand and Lebanon were both bounced from the competition by mere two-point margins, while Pacific island nations Fiji and Tonga progressed to the semifinals.

New Leaders Emerge In Red River

Jordan Maat Baylor v TCU

Texas A&M made an early statement in the Red River Conference with its 64-15 win over Oklahoma this past Saturday, but the Aggies aren’t the only contender to watch out for in this year's league race.

USA Women Set For Dubai 7s

David Barpal 170304-Las Vegas 7s-Barpal-0121.jpg

Courtesy of USA Rugby

RugbyPA Expands Reach At NY 7s

Adam Smith rugbyavcodp2016-ny7s-adam-smith.jpg

A pair of RugbyPA boys teams are looking to take home hardware while competing in separate divisions at the New York Sevens Tournament this weekend.

Back For More Winning, Equipe Quebec Favorites At NY 7s


Defending New York Sevens Women's Premier champion Equipe Quebec is heading back to the Big Apple this weekend to show that it knows a little bit about rugby up north.

NY 7s Live On FloRugby: Future Stars, Massive Coverage

Adam Smith codp-ny7s-2017-adam-smith.jpg

The New York Sevens Tournament will feature 140 teams across 12 different brackets, and fans will get to see action from three fields LIVE on FloRugby this coming weekend.