LONDON —The USA Rugby High School All-American Sevens team — including Salt Lake City’s Zach Weber — received a warm-up training session from Ben Gollings, former England Sevens Captain and HSBC ambassador this week.
And Gollings was impressed with what he saw.
“They looked very sharp out, so I hope they do well in the tournament,” he said on Wednesday.
He turned out to be right as the HSAA team went 5-0 in first day of competition on Thursday.
“Getting the chance to train with Ben as well has been amazing,” said USA head coach Salty Thompson. “It’s always a pleasure meeting great players and for the team to train with Ben was brilliant.”
A single loss by the All-Americans on the first day would have effectively knocked them out of championship contention, so every game was crucial. With over 100 schools competing in the open division of the Rosslyn Park tournament, the Americans had a tall task ahead of them.
To advance through the round of 16 tomorrow, the USA will have to take care of Llandovery College.
The USA won its opener in decisive fashion, taking out Welsh side Dyffryn Taf 47-0. Their next opponent, French team Lycee Francais Charles Ge Gaulle, fell 61-0 to the All-Americans.
Nottingham High School, a traditional school rugby power in England, gave the All-Americans a scare but the USA fought through and came out 33-22 victors.
The last pool match of the day before the USA could advance to the round of 32 was King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford. The Americans took care of them 42-0 to advance to the knockout stages where they would face Skinner’s School, which gave them their biggest challenge of the day.
The English side jumped on the HSAAs early in the game and came up with a 10-point half time lead, 7-17. The All-Americans showed great maturity and composure and stormed back in the second half to close out the game 28-17. USA Men’s National Team star, Paul Emerick, who currently plays for professional English team, London Wasps, was on hand and described the match as a “nail-biter.”
The USA will play Llandovery College at 4 a.m. MDT on Friday in the round of 16. If the USA prevails, they will need to win three more matches before they are crowned as champion of the prestigious tournament.