By Paul D. Bowker | Dec. 09, 2018, 1:51 p.m. (ET)
(R) Carlin Isles runs with the ball at Cape Town Sevens on Dec. 9, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

The USA Rugby men’s sevens team is quickly laying down a path toward the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The Eagles reached the cup final of the Cape Town Sevens on Sunday, defeating powerful New Zealand in the semifinals and then losing to 2016 Olympic champion Fiji in the championship match 29-15.

The second-place finish boosted the U.S. into first place in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings after two tournaments. A finish among the top four at the end of the 2019 season would lock down an Olympic berth.

Want to learn to curl like the pros? Looking for breaking news, videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios all at your fingertips? Download the Team USA app today.

It is the first time in team history that the Eagles have won back-to-back silver medals on the world tour.

The next tournament in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is in Hamilton, New Zealand, on January 26-27.

After losing to World Cup champion New Zealand in last week’s championship match in Dubai, the Eagles topped New Zealand 31-12 in Sunday’s semifinals in Cape Town. Stephen Tomasin, who scored more than 40 points in the tournament, scored the first points for the Eagles in the win.

The Eagles swept three pool-play matches against Japan, Spain and Argentina, and then defeated England 19-12 in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.