(L-R) Folau Niua and Lucas Lacamp tackle Elia Canakaivaga (Fiji) during the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series match against Fiji on May 28, 2022 in London.
Some students spend the summer before their final year of college doing an internship. Lucas Lacamp is getting some on-the-job experience, though his is a little more exciting than most.
Lacamp, who soon will return for his senior year at UCLA as a political science and French major, is in Carson, California, this weekend to play for U.S. men in the LA Sevens, the final HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event of the season, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“What people have to realize (is) he’s 21 years old,” said Mike Friday, the U.S. head coach. “He’s finishing his education whilst competing on the world circuit.”
Lacamp credits Friday for helping him keep those two worlds in balance.
“He’s adamant that I finish,” Lacamp said. “My mom is really happy about that. She definitely wanted me to finish my school.”
As a UCLA grad, she would be. That fact also made his college choice an easy one.
“I’d always been aware of UCLA,” Lacamp said. “Her family lives in Redlands, which is just down the road. It was really a no-brainer.”
Not only is Lacamp competing for the U.S., but he’s also thriving on the world stage. At the World Series stop in London on May 28-29, Lacamp scored tries in six of the Americans’ seven games. The U.S. went 3-4, losing a 31-5 decision to Argentina in the ninth-place playoff.
“I’ve got to give credit to all the guys on the team,” Lacamp said. “I’m just in the right place at the right time. If it weren’t for them, I would not have been playing as well as I have been.
“When I started playing, they were always on me, helping me out, making me feel comfortable. They know I just turned 21. Truly, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if it weren’t for them.”
Maybe so, but Friday had plenty of praise for Lacamp as an individual.
“I mean, he’s just got better and better,” Friday said. “You see the tries he can score from anywhere and what he can create with his feet.”
Friday has realized what he has in Lacamp since the young center made his debut with the Eagles in Dubai late last year.
“He’s not a surprise because I’ve kind of worked with him a lot,” Friday said. “But, I think, hopefully he’s surprising a lot of other people in a good way. And when he gets his hands on the ball, the crowd gets excited.”
An American crowd gets to witness his ball-carrying skills firsthand this weekend.
“People need to realize Lucas Lacamp has dashed onto the scene in the World Series,” Friday said. “I mean, he is probably one of the emerging talents on the World Series, and he’s one of ours.”
As Friday pointed out, even at this young age, Lacamp has shown himself to be a solid two-way player.
“He has electric pace. He has electric feet. He’s powerful. He’s strong,” Friday said. “He’s a good defender. And he’s doing some great things with ball in hand as well as showing … such insane fitness to do what he can in defense.”
According to Friday, Lacamp will only get better.
“Lucas Lacamp can be a star on the world sevens circuit, for sure, for years to come,” Friday said. “I think his ceiling is exceedingly high. And we’re very lucky that he puts on the American shirt.
“We just have to give him time, and we have to accept that he’s a young man that still will make mistakes, but he’s certainly, certainly going to be a star of the future.”
Lacamp, whose father works for an airline, has already come a long way. He began playing rugby while growing up in Hong Kong and refined his talents at boarding school in England.
“I’ve moved around quite a lot,” Lacamp said. “I’ve sort of been all over the place.”
Lacamp has all the usual goals that any international rugby player would — winning the World Cup, World Series and an Olympic gold medal.
“I just really want to play as well as I can and give back to the team as much as I can,” he said. “I just want to give back to … the rugby community.”
His immediate future involves playing in front of friends and family this weekend in Los Angeles.
“It’s amazing,” Lacamp said. “I’m super excited to see the crowd turn out tomorrow.”