It was one trip to Las Vegas that won’t soon be forgotten.
The U.S. men’s rugby sevens team on Sunday defeated Olympic champion Fiji in the semifinals before shutting out Argentina 28-0 to win the Las Vegas Sevens.
It was Team USA’s second tournament win in the 20-year history of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, following a 2015 victory in London. The win comes just months before the Eagles host the Rugby World Cup Sevens July 20-22 in San Francisco.
Now at the midway point of the series, the U.S. team, known as the Eagles Sevens, is ranked sixth with five tournaments remaining.
“We are a team to be proud of, a team that ticks all the boxes, and we need to make this team and this game part of the sporting landscape in America,” coach Mike Friday told USA Rugby.
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They did their part over the weekend.
The Eagles swept through pool play at Sam Boyd Stadium, defeating Samoa and Australia on Friday and then Spain on Saturday, before beating England 17-12 in the quarterfinals. On Sunday, Team USA overcame Fiji 19-7 before blanking Argentina in the final.
Perry Baker, a 2016 U.S. Olympian and last year’s World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, continues to shine for the Eagles. The 31-year-old former Arena Football League player now ranks third in the series with 25 tries.
One of those came in the final, with Baker opening the scoring against Argentina. Teammate Danny Barrett added two more tries before Carlin Isles scored the fourth in the dominating Eagles win. The championship bettered Team USA’s third-place finish last year in Las Vegas.
The World Rugby Sevens Series continues with the HSBC Canada Sevens tournament this weekend in Vancouver. The Eagles open in Pool A with Australia, Canada and Uruguay.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.