U.S. Teams Get Off To Strong Starts At World Rugby Sevens Series In Dubai

by Ethan Olson

Malacchi Esdale attempts to escape a tackle during the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 on Sept. 11, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa.


Both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams got out to convincing starts at this weekend’s World Rugby Sevens Series event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with each advancing through the group stage on Friday to qualify for Saturday’s knockout round.


Now less than two years out from the Olympic Games Paris 2024, this year’s Seven Series has added stakes as the top four men’s and women’s teams will earn an Olympic berth. The men’s season began last month in Hong Kong, while Dubai marks the first women’s event of 2022-23.


The U.S. men swept through their three pool play matches. That began with a close 19–14 win over Canada. It was a close match early on, but two tries in two minutes opened a strong lead for the Americans. They managed to keep Canada at bay for the remainder of the match.


The men built on this momentum and dominated Japan 43–7 in the next match, with a different player scoring all seven tries. Pool play concluded with a comeback win against Samoa that clinched the top spot in Pool D for the Americans. Samoa led 12–7 going into half, but the U.S. defense held strong in the second half and didn’t allow a point. Kevon Williams scored a try in the 11th minute to secure the 14-12 U.S. win.


The men now move on to the quarterfinals, where they will play the second-place team in Pool A. The U.S. men’s quarterfinal match is scheduled for 1:50 a.m. EST on Saturday.


Meanwhile, the U.S. women went 2-1 to finish second in Pool B. The Americans dispatched Canada 12-7 in their opening match. The squad got out to a strong start with two tries in the first five minutes. Canada got one back but never found a second.


Another fast start in match two helped the U.S. beat China 17-7. The U.S. scored three tries in the first half, including two in the first two minutes. China did score one try in the 12th minute. But, it was their only score of the game.


The U.S. couldn’t find a third pool play win against defending Sevens Series champions Australia, however. Maddison Levi of Australia had a massive game, scoring four of her team’s five tries en route to a 29–12 victory over the U.S.


The U.S. women now face Pool C winner Ireland in the quarterfinals. The match is set to begin at 12:22 a.m. EST on Saturday.

Ethan Olson is a sportswriter and editor based in Minneapolis. He is a contributor to courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.