Perry Baker crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year again

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Stars from powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa won the male World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, but only American Perry Baker has won it twice.

The speedy Olympian earned the title for a second straight season, despite missing the last two legs of the 10-stop World Series with a shoulder injury. He still ranked fourth in tries and 10th in points.

Baker, 32, reverted to rugby after a brief football career, failing a physical with the Philadelphia Eagles but playing two years in the Arena League as a wide receiver.

He made the national team in 2014 and in his second tournament scored a game-winning try in an upset of Fiji, which would go on to win the first Olympic men’s rugby sevens tournament in Rio.

Baker and the Americans placed ninth in Rio. They were fifth and sixth in the World Series the last two years, including a title in Las Vegas in March. Baker had the highlight of that leg, an end-to-end score in a 19-7 semifinal win over Fiji.

The U.S. went on to beat Argentina 28-0 in the final for its second leg victory in the near-20-year-history of the World Series, after winning in London in 2015.

Last season, Baker became the first U.S. player to lead the World Series in tries, after finishing second the previous campaign. He also had a leading 285 points (a try is worth five points).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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