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Five For Friday: Rugby

By Paul D. Bowker | June 01, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Madison Hughes competes at the 2017 HSBC Cape Town Sevens on Dec. 9, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.


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The return of 2016 Olympians Madison Hughes and Folau Niua has the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens flying high into this week’s HSBC London Sevens.

Hughes, the team captain, has missed the last five HSBC Series stops due to an injury and Niua missed the last stop in Singapore, where the U.S. won the Challenge Trophy (ninth place) and vaulted into fifth place in the overall standings.

“I can’t wait to be back out there and to try and help continue the outstanding run our team has been on,” Hughes said.

The U.S. won the Las Vegas Sevens in March for its second-ever Sevens Series win. The men have also finished fourth twice and sixth twice.

The Eagles play Kenya, England and France in pool play Saturday. The playoffs and championship match are Sunday at Twickenham Stadium in London.

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The addition of Hughes and Niua should boost the U.S., which defeated Argentina, Scotland and Canada on the second day of the Singapore Sevens to win its second Challenge Trophy of the season. Hughes had 53 points in three tournaments before falling to injury. Niua has 136 points this season.

“It’s great to see Madison and Folau back from injury as both have been working hard to get ready for this tournament and excited to get out there with the boys,” said coach Mike Friday.

Meanwhile, out this week for the Eagles are 2016 Olympians Perry Baker and Make Unufe.

The U.S. enters the final two tournaments of the season in a battle for fifth place. The Eagles hold fifth place, but just five points separate the U.S., Kenya, Argentina and England. The U.S. trails Australia, in fourth place, by 15 points.

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