3 Things: Return of International 7s… and Covid

We’ve reached the tiny part of the year where there’s a lot happening off the field in American rugby, but there isn’t too much happening on it. While MLR signings are starting to heat up, Major League Rugby plays little role in the top stories this weekend. After all, not much could be bigger news than the fact that…

USA Men’s 7s Could be the Best of the Rest

The Olympics left many men’s 7s fans disappointed, as the Golden Age of USA 7s weren’t real medal contenders. If left many facing the reality that this group has simply aged past its peak. The roster needed younger talent to start the next great generation.

Hell of a way to start.

Even with 6 player on the wrong side of 30, this team looked invigorated. A silver finish was much better than I expected.

They might’ve also hit their ceiling.

The Blitzboks came out and ran through this tournament. The championship match felt sealed about four minutes in. This team is far too athletic for the Americans to overcome with this roster. Worth mentioning is the absence of those boys in black, as New Zealand is sitting out the first two rounds of the Series due to Covid travel issues.

This feels like a roster trying to come together for one last run at the World Cup next year. It really feels like Perry Baker and Folau Niua on on their final stretch. Carlin Isles and Matai Leuta are 32. Martin Iosefo is 31. Kevon Williams is 30. On the bright side, 3 young guns are under 25.

In a game that continues to get faster, stronger, and more professional, this roster is aging out of the modern game. That’s OK. They’re still capable of occasional brilliance. As long as Mike Friday remembers to bludgeon the up and comers along the way, there’s nothing wrong with us enjoying the best iteration of US 7s we’ve seen. Yet.

USA Women’s 7s Have a Rough Return

Saying the Women’s 7s is in trouble after one round would be a massive overreaction. Finishing fourth in their group was a big jarring, though.

Admit it. Its weird seeing the Women’s 7s team finish 7th in a comp.

The Olympics felt like an underachievement, but this roster is the opposite of the men’s. Several players are fresh back from 15s duty. The expansion of the 15s Women’s game in England pulls on the overall women’s rugby player pool. There’s a total of 2 players on this roster with ages starting with a 3. This is a team evolving.

Women’s rugby is going through a growth phase, and its pulling on the talent pool in more ways than one. The progress isn’t equal worldwide. This team is an example of that. Its young. Its evolving. It hasn’t had its Golden Age, and its a couple years from finding it. But let them find their footing before we pass judgement.

Rugby Cannot Evade Covid

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, rugby isn’t immune to a pandemic that remains at large.

The Rugby Tens Championship in Lisbon was cancelled after an outbreak among athletes in the camp. URC games involving South African Teams were scuttled after the discovery of the new omicron variant. (Fixtures have since been rearranged to include South African derbies next weekend.) New Zealand 7s remains off the circuit due to virus concerns.

All of this seems to indicate increasing disruptions over the cold months in the global north. Will MLR be affected?

With camps set to open around Christmas and voluntary workouts already underway, Major League Rugby is rushing toward its early February start. After a cancelled season and a season with Covid restrictions, this league needs a successful season, especially with the World Cup looking more possible in 2031. Revenue and public appearances are key. There’s no reason to believe the season will be cancelled, but we can’t assume that players are never going to encounter Covid. This season will still be impacted by the virus. How the league continues to mitigate risk will be just as important as it was in the later stages of last year.

If you want to help the league ensure minimal Covid disruptions and fight the global pandemic, serious consider being vaccinated with a safe and effective vaccine. Consider encouraging those around you to be vaccinated as well, including children. And, if you’re so inclined, consider getting a booster at the appropriate time. If you have any questions about vaccines or how to get the jab, the Centers for Disease Control has all you want and more.

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