By Paul D. Bowker | July 20, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)
Danny Barrett competes at the HSBC Hong Kong Rugby Sevens on April 7, 2018 in Hong Kong.

 

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The U.S. men’s and women’s teams are hoping for deep runs as the U.S. hosts its first Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The tournament, which begins Friday, is being held at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The USA Men’s Eagles are seeded fifth and open play Friday night in the Round of 16 against Wales or Zimbabwe. Eight of the starting 12 on the U.S. team are 2016 Olympians, including team captain Madison Hughes.

Other Olympians on the team are Carlin Isles, Ben Pinkelman, Danny Barrett, Folau Niua, Maka Unufe, Perry Baker and Martin Iosefo.

The men’s medal round is Sunday.

“It is a fantastic motivation and opportunity for the boys to be able to play a world cup on home soil,” U.S. coach Mike Friday said.

After a ninth-place finish at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the Eagles finished sixth in the 2018 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings, which included winning the Las Vegas Sevens in March.

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Also seeking a podium finish this week is the U.S. women’s team, which is seeded fifth and opens play Friday against China in the Round of 16. The women’s title round is Saturday.

Naya Tapper is one of the team’s top scorers this year with 130 points. Olympians on the squad are Ryan Carlyle, Lauren Doyle and Joanne Fa’avesi. Alev Kelter, a 2016 Olympian and the team’s leading scorer, was initially named to the roster but is now out with an injury.

“Our players have been building towards this tournament for years and to represent their country at home is remarkable in and of itself,” coach Richie Walker said. “We look forward to sharing our journey with home fans in San Francisco.”

The women’s team is coming off a fifth-place finish in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series standings in 2017, including two podium finishes in one season for the first time.

More than 30 hours of coverage will be carried via NBC’s platform, including NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN.

TV: 4 p.m. ET Friday, 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel; 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC

Webcast: 1 p.m. Friday, NBC Sports Gold

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.