Joe Schroeder competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 26, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo.
Nothing provides a competitive edge in an international competition quite like a little bit of home cooking.
At least that’s what members of the U.S. men’s rugby sevens team hope will occur when they take part in the final World Rugby Sevens Series event of the year, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“Obviously, we’re extremely excited to finally be back on home soil at a World Series event,” said U.S. coach Mike Friday, pointing out that it’s been more than two years since the Americans hosted a World Series event. “It’s always special to play in front of your home crowd and your family on home soil.
“The boys enjoy that. They rise to that challenge. And they’re excited by that challenge.”
While the Americans — currently sixth place in the overall standings — are out of the running for the World Series title, they hope to make a good showing at the LA Sevens tournament and gather momentum for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will take place Sept. 9-11 in Cape Town, South Africa.
South Africa leads the World Series with 124 points, followed by Australia (122), Argentina (118) and two-time defending Olympic gold medalist Fiji (104). All four teams have a shot at the championship. Team USA has accumulated 84 points after nine months of play.
The Americans have their work cut out for them this weekend. They face recent Commonwealth Games gold medalist South Africa (12:20 p.m. ET), current World Cup champion New Zealand (3:48 p.m. ET) and Canada (6:37 p.m. ET) in Saturday’s Pool B play. The games will be streamed live on Peacock.
“I think more so than any other time this series, the group that we’ve been put into is probably the worst ‘pool of death’ that I’ve seen this year,” Friday said. “It’s going to be an extremely tough ask for the guys.
“It’s going to be exceptionally hard, but that’s what the game of sevens is about. You have to rise to these challenges head-on, and we’re excited about it. I think we’ve got the potential to do really well if we play to our potential and we rise to the challenge rather than not.”
In the last World Series event, which took place May 28-29 in London, the U.S. ended with a 31-5 loss to Argentina in the ninth-place playoff.