RUGBY: Fiji defeats U.S. men in Cape Town, but U.S. now in first place

Fiji wins the 2018 Cape Town Sevens (Photo: World Rugby)

The United States men’s national rugby team – the Eagles – have never finished higher than fifth in the seasonal standings of the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series. But they’re in first place now!

In the second of 10 stops on the 2018-19 season tour, the U.S. has finished second twice and now sits in the rarefied air of first place in the seasonal standings with 38 points, one up on New Zealand (37) and Fiji (35).

Fiji won the tournament, beating the U.S. in the final, 29-15. Australia, Fiji and the U.S. were a perfect 3-0 in their pools, and then the U.S. defeated England (19-12) and New Zealand (31-12) to get to the final. Fiji sailed past Spain, 46-7, then edged South Africa, 17-12, to reach the championship match.

The U.S. has lost two finals in a row, but first place is first place. Balanced scoring has been part of the secret; the Eagles are much more than the speedy Perry Baker right now. Sure, Baker continues to score, with 45 points, but he’s only third on the team. Madison Hughes leads the U.S. with 58 points, with help from Stephen Tomasin at 53.

Baker leads the team in tries with nine, followed by Tomasin (7) and Carlin Isles (6).