Heading into the HSBC LA Sevens 2020 earlier this year, two of the host nation’s biggest stars had history within their grasp.
Perry Baker and Carlin Isles have each lit up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for more than half a decade as the USA have become an increasingly competitive force.
The speedsters arrived at Dignity Health Sports Park on 199 tries a piece in the World Series and both with the chance to become the first American to cross the whitewash 200 times.
Episode five of 24 Sevens provides a great insight into the relationship between the two crossover stars, and how much reaching a double century in front of their home crowd meant.
Although USA coach Mike Friday gave Baker the nod to start his side’s opening match against Samoa, it was Isles who came off the bench to score the decisive try in a 19-17 victory — becoming only the seventh World Series player to reach the milestone.
“To have that underneath my belt shows a lot, not only to my team-mates but to myself and my love for the game of rugby,” Isles told 24 Sevens.
“I’m able to show my gift and having that landmark is amazing.”
Baker was delighted to see his friend chalk up his 200th World Series try. The 34-year-old and Isles both played college American football, while the latter was also an all-American track and field athlete, before they were identified as potential sevens stars by USA Rugby.
“I honestly wanted Carlin to reach that 200 first just because of the hard work he put in,” Baker said. “He paved the way for crossover athletes like myself.”
And the two-time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year did not have to wait long to reach the milestone himself, as he scored in the 33-12 defeat of Scotland.
‘You can achieve whatever you want’
“Running down the sideline, that’s where my family was and that’s where my friends were. They were on that sideline, so it was pretty sweet,” Baker added.
“I always dreamed of being the best at whatever I chose to do, I always dreamed of being the best and putting my best foot forward.
“And it just shows that stay focused, head down and you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.”
Episode five, which begins with a behind-the-scenes look at contingency planning for the COVID-19 pandemic, is packed with on-pitch action.
Aside from the history-making USA pair, the LA Sevens was host to an outrageous try-scoring pass from Sevulani Mocenacagi, a thrilling comeback from South Africa against Fiji in the final and much, much more.