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Perry Baker (born June 29, 1986) is an American rugby sevens player for the United States national rugby sevens team. With over 160 tries, Baker ranks first among Americans and ninth among all players in career tries scored in the World Series.

Perry Baker
Date of birth (1986-06-29) June 29, 1986 (age 33)
Place of birthNew Smyrna Beach, Florida, U.S.
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight180 lb (82 kg)
SchoolSpruce Creek High School
UniversityFairmont State University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013–2014 Tiger Rugby (Ohio)
1823 (Ohio)
()
National sevens team(s)
Years Team Comps
2014– United States 189 (852; 170t)
Correct as of 10 June 2018

Baker has established himself as one of the best rugby sevens players in the world. In the 2015–16 World Series, Baker ranked second with 48 tries scored and was one of seven players named to the World Series Dream Team. In the 2016–17 World Series, Baker ranked first with 57 tries scored, was again named to the World Series Dream Team, and won the 2017 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award.

Contents

American footballEdit

Baker played college football for NCAA Division II Fairmont State University in West Virginia. He graduated from Fairmont State in 2010 with a degree in Criminal Justice.[1]

Baker was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL) in July 2011, but he suffered a knee injury that cut short his NFL career.[2][3] Baker played two seasons for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League from 2012 to 2013.[4][5]

Rugby careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Baker was introduced to rugby by one of Baker's former high school football coaches in 2006. Baker played with the Daytona Beach Coconuts in 2012, leading them to a ninth-place finish at the club sevens national tournament.[6] Baker took up rugby full-time in 2013 and joined the Tiger Rugby Academy in Columbus, Ohio, working under coach Paul Holmes.[7]

U.S. national teamEdit

2014–16Edit

Baker signed a full-time contract with the U.S. Eagles in July 2014 to join the residency program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego, California.[8][9] Baker made his debut at the 2014 Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, where he entered the U.S. team's first match against Canada as a second-half substitute. Baker's first start and first try came in the U.S. team's third match of that tournament, against Argentina; he scored his first hat-trick also in that tournament, in the knockout rounds against Portugal.[10][11][12] Baker was involved in an incident at the 2014 South Africa Sevens when the United States were playing against South Africa, a fan invaded the rugby field and tackled him. Baker retaliated by kicking him, he later apologized for his actions on Twitter.[13][14]

Baker played an instrumental role in the U.S. team's first-ever victory over New Zealand, scoring both tries in their 14-12 victory at the 2015 Dubai Sevens.[15] During the 2015-16 World Rugby Sevens Series Baker scored 48 tries during the season, a record high for a US player.[16] Baker was second only to South Africa's Seabelo Senatla in tries for the season, and Baker earned a place on the World Rugby dream team for the 2015-16 season.

Baker was a member of the United States men's rugby team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. He scored a try in the second half of the team's final pool match against Fiji.[17] The team did not advance past pool play.

2016–presentEdit

Baker had a productive 2016–17 season. At the 2016 South Africa Sevens, in the absence of regular captain Madison Hughes, Baker was named U.S. team captain for the tournament. At the 2017 Singapore Sevens, Baker ran 100 meters from his own in-goal area to score a try against Wales, which was voted by World Rugby as one of the tries of the tournament; in the match against Scotland Baker beat four defenders to set up a try for Stephen Tomasin, which was also voted as one of the best tries of the 2017 Singapore Sevens tournament. At the 2017 Paris Sevens Baker scored another length-of-the-field try, which was voted one of the best tries of the tournament. Baker finished the 2016-17 World Series with 57 tries, more than any other player. Baker’s accomplishments were recognized by World Rugby. He was one of seven players named to the 2017 World Series Dream Team. He received the 2017 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award, beating out Fiji’s Jerry Tuwai and South Africa’s Roscko Specman.

Baker started slowly in the 2017–18 season, missing almost all of the first two tournaments due to a concussion. Baker was an important part of the U.S. victory at the 2018 USA Sevens, the team's first tournament win on home soil. Baker scored all of the team's three tries in the 17–12 quarterfinal win over England. In the semifinal against Fiji with the U.S. down 0–7 at halftime, Baker sparked the team with two second-half tries for a 19–7 comeback win. In the final against Argentina, Baker opened the scoring with a try en route to a 28–0 victory. Baker was leading all players in tries scored for the 2017–18 season before a shoulder injury cause him to miss the last few tournaments of the season.

Season by seasonEdit

WR Sevens Series
WR 7s Season Tries Scored USA Rank World Rank Accolades
2014–15 28 2nd 10th
2015–16 48 1st 2nd World Series Dream Team
2016–17 57 1st 1st 2017 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year
2017–18 37 2nd 4th-T 2018 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year
2018–19
Career 170 1st 9th

FamilyEdit

Baker's older brother Dallas is a National Football League, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League player. Perry is the nephew of former NFL player and coach Wes Chandler.[18][19]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Perry Baker, Team USA. Accessed April 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "Perry Baker". kffl.com. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  3. ^ Martin Pengelly (February 13, 2015). "USA sevens rugby star Perry Baker earns Eagles wings in new arena". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  4. ^ sarugbymag.co.za (October 14, 2014). "New USA speedster Perry Baker". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Perry Baker". arenafan.com. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Brent Woronoff (July 29, 2014). "Baker keeps Olympic dream alive, joins USA Rugby residency program". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Brent Woronoff (July 29, 2014). "Baker keeps Olympic dream alive, joins USA Rugby residency program". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  8. ^ Brent Woronoff (July 29, 2014). "Baker keeps Olympic dream alive, joins USA Rugby residency program". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  9. ^ Graham Smeaton (May 3, 2015). "USA Eagles Rugby – Perry 'Speedstick' Baker". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Oliver Pickup (February 13, 2015). "HSBC Sevens World Series: USA flier Perry Baker ready to set Las Vegas aflame in home competition". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  11. ^ Curtis (thisisamericanrugby.com) (October 14, 2014). "Perry Baker Reflects On Eagles Debut". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  12. ^ Pat Clifton (September 30, 2014). "Baker Could Complete Deadly Duo". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  13. ^ Snejana Farberov (December 16, 2014). "That'll teach him! Moment American rugby player kicked pitch intruder in the stomach in retaliation for tackling him during match". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  14. ^ Ron Dicker (December 15, 2014). "Perry Baker, U.S. Rugby Player, Kicks Intruder Who Ran On Field". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  15. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/dubai-sevens-usa-beat-new-zealand-in-world-series-sensation/news-story/56fc7ae8d75f40ac5ab55abc989bba9c
  16. ^ http://www.goffrugbyreport.com/news/look-mens-olympic-rugby-team
  17. ^ http://results.nbcolympics.com/rugby/event/men/match=rum407a06/index.html?v=20160810175139&intcmp=[#]-schline-result
  18. ^ Martin Pengelly (February 13, 2015). "USA sevens rugby star Perry Baker earns Eagles wings in new arena". Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  19. ^ "USA rugby sevens team shocks the world, defeats New Zealand", Washington Post, Jake Russell, December 4, 2015.

External linksEdit