RUGBYmag Premier
Newer Eagles Excited for Irish Test - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Pat Clifton   
Thursday, 06 June 2013 17:02


Players always say that every opportunity to pull on the American jersey is one to be cherished. Surely, that’s true. But pulling on the jersey to play Romania isn’t the same as donning the red, white and blue to play, say Ireland.

 
Eagle Eye: Some Notes on the USA Team - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 13:59


The USA Men's National Team has now just a few days to prepare for Ireland at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston (click here for tickets), and while many might feel a rising pessimism following their lackluster performance against Glendale last week, that team was not the USA team that will play the Irish.

 
King's Corner: Football and Rugby - Miles Craigwell Weighs In - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Coaching
Written by Miles Craigwell   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 13:32


In this month's King's Corner, Waisale Serevi hands over the keyboard to USA and OPSB player Miles Craigwell, who also played in the NFL. Miles looks at how football and rugby differ, and how they complement each other, as well.

This is a must-read for HS and college football coaches, as well as young players of both sports.

 
RUGBY Magazine May 2013 is Available for Subscribers PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Rugby Magazine Digital
Written by Alex Goff   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:53


The May issue of Rugby Magazine is now available to RUGBYMag.com Subscribers as well as via the Apple Newsstand and iTunes. Click
here to use the iPad App.  And BIG NEWS - you can subscribe with you Android tablet. Go here for more.

RUGBY Magazine May 2013 cover

 
What's Manoa's Role Against Ireland? - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Pat Clifton   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 20:26


Takudzwa Ngwenya, Chris Wyles, Mike Petri and Scott LaValla all join the Eagles in Houston ahead of the Ireland game, and all of them are expected to start right away. They've all had plenty of caps as Eagles and been a part of the USA system, pretty much constantly, for the last few years.

 
Checking In with USA U20s - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 15:16


If you haven't heard much from the USA U20s as they prepare for the Junior World Championships, that's by design.

 
Checking In with USA U20s - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 15:16


If you haven't heard much from the USA U20s as they prepare for the Junior World Championships, that's by design.

 
Checking In with USA U20s - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 15:16


If you haven't heard much from the USA U20s as they prepare for the Junior World Championships, that's by design.

 
The Myth of Talent I.D. - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Columns and Opinions
Written by Eamonn Hogan   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 12:36


 

“There was a time when you went for an interview for entry into Oxford that if you were passed a rugby ball and caught it, you were offered a place. If you passed it back, you received a scholarship.”

- Nicholas Evans, Author


In October 2012, my son took part in a trial for a local representative team. The session consisted of two contact activities, a 12 v 5 overload game, and a game at the end. Having run a few of these myself, I could ascertain the type of players they were looking for, ones to supplement those who had already been "chosen". A few days later, the newly selected players were added to the previously chosen list, and although I was accurate in what type of players the coaching staff was looking for (mostly forwards), one name did stand out.

During the game at the end of the trial, a tall winger ran from his 22m line, beautifully avoiding the scrambling defence and scored. It was a super try, and the young lad finished it well. Here is my issue: Did any of the coaches evaluating that evening see how the ball got to that player’s hands in the first place?

The trial's pitch had been subject to heavy showers during the day and it was fairly breezy that evening. This specific try was preceded by a fullback fielding a difficult catch in the wind and on the run, then passing into space for a supporting runner. The supporting runner then attacked and drew three defenders to him before making a bullet-like 15-metre miss-pass to the winger, who ran 70+ metres untouched.

Who would I have picked? Absolutely, I would have looked at the winger – but if I saw a player who could draw three people toward him under pressure at a trial match and put someone away, wouldn't he be worthy of consideration? He was not among the selected.

For as long as I have been involved in the game, trials have been a constant thorn in the side of rugby. No one coming away from a trial is ever happy with their experience, and even if the selected side has a successful representative season, it is the trial that is scrutinized during the end-of-season review. How can we do it better, fairer? How can we improve our talent ID process?

Over the last few years, this has become an issue for the English RFU, and they've begun specialist-training courses for their 16s and 18s representative selectors. These selectors travel far and wide to view inter-county matches and now have a clearer view of where the talent lies within the English game. However, below this level, grassroots coaches look on in despair as there's still the mentality that players must perform their best at a one-off trial for a chance to wear their local shirt. It’s always been that way, though, so why should it change?

Rugby administrators in the UK are dealing with the elite game in the best way they can. But the vast majority of players will never be involved in that world, and even less so now that professional rugby clubs only hire those people who have previously been involved in the professional game. What we need to address is talent identification among youth and give some real consideration to the idea that, for the sake of creating depth in our game and raising standards, the system we have now at the grassroots level is not good.

Most young players in elite rugby programs are invited into these centres at 13 years old. Although some leave and some come in later, overall it’s fair to say that there isn’t much movement. The problem now seems to be that although there is an awareness of who is good at the moment, there doesn't seem to be a structure in place to tell the game who could be good in a few years if identified. There are fewer late developers coming through now than ever. Why? It's actually quite simple:

As I stated previously, in the UK the best players are generally seen at 13 and are placed into a structure where they are coached by the best in the area at least once a week for the entire season. Because they are being coached once by their club and once by the area coaches, they are already 100% ahead of those that didn't make the select squad. If this continues for three years until they reach the Pre-Premiership Academy years (age 16), the difference can be significant. Any player to break into this world would have to be very fortunate indeed. But surely talent always gets seen? You would think so, but to butcher an old philosophy saying:

"If a player performs significantly and no one is around to see it, are they still a good player?"

We expect amateur players to be accountable for their performances in a one-off chance. But nowhere in society do we select someone for a role after first performing in a single situation, one about which that person has no advance information.

The real issue here is a lack of scouts for the amateur rugby game. Scouts are people who travel to watch youth matches with talented players as a job (as opposed to having to do so by taking time off work, incurring a loss of income as a result). The obvious answer is that there is only so much money in the pot, and talent ID is just not the most prevalent issue. Premiership clubs have people who look and scout for them, but if the club employs them, they often will only look at regional games or higher as that's where the talent supposedly lies.

The RFU does employ people who are Regional Talent ID and Development Coaches, but they are so few that they can only focus their energy on a few small pieces at a time. They build networks of contacts, but in the ever-shifting sands of youth coaching, a person they have available to them this year may not be available to them next year. They will come and watch players if asked, but they are so few in number it is difficult for them to see as much as they wish.

Most counties in England, however, do have RFU-endorsed summer camps that allow young men and women to spend up to a week learning the skills of the game with the finest coaches in the area. The better ones use these camps as a way to select and identify players for their age grade sides for the coming season. When I appear at these camps as a parent, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of highly qualified, RFU-employed staff coaches. This is superb, but a bit baffling; why are these people available at a summer camp, but never on the side of pitches throughout the season watching school/club youth games?

I asked, and although they make themselves available for the camp, it is not their job to go around identifying players – which is strange considering they coach rugby for a living … for the RFU. However, I am not blaming them, the RFU or anyone else, as I am not aware of what the RFU area priorities currently are. I am just highlighting the fact that there are people who step up at one point or other in the year to identify and develop children, but are not tasked with doing so year-round. To me, this is a serious problem.

Talent identification, and in fact the whole trial process needs to be re-evaluated and re-imagined for the demands of the modern game. The structure is designed to find the very best for the international teams, but with decent players being overlooked at almost every age group in England, it’s not that the best players are being missed, it’s the depth of player talent we could have in England that simply isn’t being nurtured.

Players who come to trials do so with an ambition to challenge for a higher-level team. The majority do not make it. I ask: What else have they taken from the process? Usually, not much apart from knowing who is good and who isn’t. When a player of mine travels to a trial, I always ask them several questions before they find out whether they have made the team. (Afterwards usually has some bias towards whether they were selected or not).

  1. Have they seen a new way of performing an individual task?
  2. Was it a worthwhile process for them?
  3. Is there any real feedback to aid them over the next few years so that they could realistically make the team if they are not in a development program?
  4. Finally, was it fun to take part in?

The answers given are always massively revealing.

So what has this got to with the USA?

I constantly read about the wonderful growth of the game there and am thrilled to have seen some of it at first-hand. But having outlined a UK view of talent ID, I would like to ask you a few questions:

1. How effective is the process in finding the players (and coaches) you wish to see bring you national success in the USA.?
2. Is there a grass roots SBRO policy regarding coaches being trained to help identify future representative players as opposed to ‘using their gut instinct’?
3. Where is the USA talent identification program currently at state level?
4. Where does it need to be to make a real difference to the USA men’s and women’s national teams?

Is now the time for the debate to start in the USA for future World Cup Cycles – or are you, as a nation, ahead of the world already?



 
The Myth of Talent I.D. - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Eamonn Hogan   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 12:36


 

“There was a time when you went for an interview for entry into Oxford that if you were passed a rugby ball and caught it, you were offered a place. If you passed it back, you received a scholarship.”

- Nicholas Evans, Author


In October 2012, my son took part in a trial for a local representative team. The session consisted of two contact activities, a 12 v 5 overload game, and a game at the end. Having run a few of these myself, I could ascertain the type of players they were looking for, ones to supplement those who had already been "chosen". A few days later, the newly selected players were added to the previously chosen list, and although I was accurate in what type of players the coaching staff was looking for (mostly forwards), one name did stand out.

During the game at the end of the trial, a tall winger ran from his 22m line, beautifully avoiding the scrambling defence and scored. It was a super try, and the young lad finished it well. Here is my issue: Did any of the coaches evaluating that evening see how the ball got to that player’s hands in the first place?

The trial's pitch had been subject to heavy showers during the day and it was fairly breezy that evening. This specific try was preceded by a fullback fielding a difficult catch in the wind and on the run, then passing into space for a supporting runner. The supporting runner then attacked and drew three defenders to him before making a bullet-like 15-metre miss-pass to the winger, who ran 70+ metres untouched.

Who would I have picked? Absolutely, I would have looked at the winger – but if I saw a player who could draw three people toward him under pressure at a trial match and put someone away, wouldn't he be worthy of consideration? He was not among the selected.

For as long as I have been involved in the game, trials have been a constant thorn in the side of rugby. No one coming away from a trial is ever happy with their experience, and even if the selected side has a successful representative season, it is the trial that is scrutinized during the end-of-season review. How can we do it better, fairer? How can we improve our talent ID process?

Over the last few years, this has become an issue for the English RFU, and they've begun specialist-training courses for their 16s and 18s representative selectors. These selectors travel far and wide to view inter-county matches and now have a clearer view of where the talent lies within the English game. However, below this level, grassroots coaches look on in despair as there's still the mentality that players must perform their best at a one-off trial for a chance to wear their local shirt. It’s always been that way, though, so why should it change?

Rugby administrators in the UK are dealing with the elite game in the best way they can. But the vast majority of players will never be involved in that world, and even less so now that professional rugby clubs only hire those people who have previously been involved in the professional game. What we need to address is talent identification among youth and give some real consideration to the idea that, for the sake of creating depth in our game and raising standards, the system we have now at the grassroots level is not good.

Most young players in elite rugby programs are invited into these centres at 13 years old. Although some leave and some come in later, overall it’s fair to say that there isn’t much movement. The problem now seems to be that although there is an awareness of who is good at the moment, there doesn't seem to be a structure in place to tell the game who could be good in a few years if identified. There are fewer late developers coming through now than ever. Why? It's actually quite simple:

As I stated previously, in the UK the best players are generally seen at 13 and are placed into a structure where they are coached by the best in the area at least once a week for the entire season. Because they are being coached once by their club and once by the area coaches, they are already 100% ahead of those that didn't make the select squad. If this continues for three years until they reach the Pre-Premiership Academy years (age 16), the difference can be significant. Any player to break into this world would have to be very fortunate indeed. But surely talent always gets seen? You would think so, but to butcher an old philosophy saying:

"If a player performs significantly and no one is around to see it, are they still a good player?"

We expect amateur players to be accountable for their performances in a one-off chance. But nowhere in society do we select someone for a role after first performing in a single situation, one about which that person has no advance information.

The real issue here is a lack of scouts for the amateur rugby game. Scouts are people who travel to watch youth matches with talented players as a job (as opposed to having to do so by taking time off work, incurring a loss of income as a result). The obvious answer is that there is only so much money in the pot, and talent ID is just not the most prevalent issue. Premiership clubs have people who look and scout for them, but if the club employs them, they often will only look at regional games or higher as that's where the talent supposedly lies.

The RFU does employ people who are Regional Talent ID and Development Coaches, but they are so few that they can only focus their energy on a few small pieces at a time. They build networks of contacts, but in the ever-shifting sands of youth coaching, a person they have available to them this year may not be available to them next year. They will come and watch players if asked, but they are so few in number it is difficult for them to see as much as they wish.

Most counties in England, however, do have RFU-endorsed summer camps that allow young men and women to spend up to a week learning the skills of the game with the finest coaches in the area. The better ones use these camps as a way to select and identify players for their age grade sides for the coming season. When I appear at these camps as a parent, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of highly qualified, RFU-employed staff coaches. This is superb, but a bit baffling; why are these people available at a summer camp, but never on the side of pitches throughout the season watching school/club youth games?

I asked, and although they make themselves available for the camp, it is not their job to go around identifying players – which is strange considering they coach rugby for a living … for the RFU. However, I am not blaming them, the RFU or anyone else, as I am not aware of what the RFU area priorities currently are. I am just highlighting the fact that there are people who step up at one point or other in the year to identify and develop children, but are not tasked with doing so year-round. To me, this is a serious problem.

Talent identification, and in fact the whole trial process needs to be re-evaluated and re-imagined for the demands of the modern game. The structure is designed to find the very best for the international teams, but with decent players being overlooked at almost every age group in England, it’s not that the best players are being missed, it’s the depth of player talent we could have in England that simply isn’t being nurtured.

Players who come to trials do so with an ambition to challenge for a higher-level team. The majority do not make it. I ask: What else have they taken from the process? Usually, not much apart from knowing who is good and who isn’t. When a player of mine travels to a trial, I always ask them several questions before they find out whether they have made the team. (Afterwards usually has some bias towards whether they were selected or not).

  1. Have they seen a new way of performing an individual task?
  2. Was it a worthwhile process for them?
  3. Is there any real feedback to aid them over the next few years so that they could realistically make the team if they are not in a development program?
  4. Finally, was it fun to take part in?

The answers given are always massively revealing.

So what has this got to with the USA?

I constantly read about the wonderful growth of the game there and am thrilled to have seen some of it at first-hand. But having outlined a UK view of talent ID, I would like to ask you a few questions:

1. How effective is the process in finding the players (and coaches) you wish to see bring you national success in the USA.?
2. Is there a grass roots SBRO policy regarding coaches being trained to help identify future representative players as opposed to ‘using their gut instinct’?
3. Where is the USA talent identification program currently at state level?
4. Where does it need to be to make a real difference to the USA men’s and women’s national teams?

Is now the time for the debate to start in the USA for future World Cup Cycles – or are you, as a nation, ahead of the world already?



 
7s Eagle Set to Sign With French Club - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:59


Rumors about this very move have abounded practically since Carlin Isles first set foot on an IRB 7s World Series pitch. Other teams have been talked about, and other leagues, but Carlin Isles is all but on his way to France.

 
7s Eagle Set to Sign With French Club - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:59


Rumors about this very move have abounded practically since Carlin Isles first set foot on an IRB 7s World Series pitch. Other teams have been talked about, and other leagues, but Carlin Isles is all but on his way to France.

 
7s Eagle Set to Sign With French Club - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:59


Rumors about this very move have abounded practically since Carlin Isles first set foot on an IRB 7s World Series pitch. Other teams have been talked about, and other leagues, but Carlin Isles is all but on his way to France.

 
Eagle Eye: Canada Performance Not Good Enough - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Columns and Opinions
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 27 May 2013 14:45


If the USA is to beat Ireland on June 8 in Houston, they are going to have to do more with their possession than they did against Canada.

 
Eagle Eye: Canada Performance Not Good Enough - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 27 May 2013 14:45


If the USA is to beat Ireland on June 8 in Houston, they are going to have to do more with their possession than they did against Canada.

 
Eagles Camp Sees Changes - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 27 May 2013 13:57


The USA Men’s National Team will undergo some squad changes this week as they continue their assembly in Glendale, Colo.

 
Eagles Camp Sees Changes - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 27 May 2013 13:57


The USA Men’s National Team will undergo some squad changes this week as they continue their assembly in Glendale, Colo.

 
Eagles Camp Sees Changes - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 27 May 2013 13:57


The USA Men’s National Team will undergo some squad changes this week as they continue their assembly in Glendale, Colo.

 
Tolkin Disappointed with Loss - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Saturday, 25 May 2013 17:47


USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin expected to beat Canada, and felt, after his team lost 16-9 Saturday in Edmonton, that his team is still the better team.

 
Tolkin Disappointed with Loss - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Saturday, 25 May 2013 17:47


USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin expected to beat Canada, and felt, after his team lost 16-9 Saturday in Edmonton, that his team is still the better team.

 
Tolkin Disappointed with Loss - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Saturday, 25 May 2013 17:47


USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin expected to beat Canada, and felt, after his team lost 16-9 Saturday in Edmonton, that his team is still the better team.

 
Suniula - The Pressure On in Glasgow - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Shalom Suniula   
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 22:29


Shalom Suniula discusses the team's buildup and ultimate success at the Glasgow 7s This column is available for Premier Subscribers.

 
Test Status or No for USA-Canada Game? - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:29


The IRB is looking to change the status of this weekend's USA v. Canada game.

 
Test Status or No for USA-Canada Game? - P PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:29


The IRB is looking to change the status of this weekend's USA v. Canada game.

 


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