Alex Magleby and his staff were at the Club 7s National Championships in San Francisco last weekend scouting. There were numerous guys who looked good, and certainly some new names, too. But their performances have to be tempered, says Magleby.
"There's a few guys I think stood out and played a bit better than the rest. There's a lot of parity within the player pool, but I'm not sure how experienced and how high level that player pool is," Magleby told RUGBYMag.
"And there's parity, which is a good thing, that you have a lot of guys that are kind of at the same level. I just am not convinced yet that without a lot of training and being in a different environment a lot of those guys will get that much better as quickly as we'd want them to in the player pool.
"The level here right now today, it's a far away from the circuit. We identify guys, but then what happens? That's why it would have been great to have more National Team players here. You saw with Shalom here last year, he was a man amongst boys, and that's what you'd expect from National Team guys. I'm not sure we saw any of those situations this weekend. So the guys we did see are OK. In a certain environment, they could potentially get to that level."
(Several National Team players missed last weekend's championships because of injury, like Colin Hawley, Peter Tiberio, Nu'u Punimata and Andrew Durutalo, and Shalom Suniula missed because of ineligibility due to not playing the requisite two tournaments with his club.)
When pressed to name a few guys who looked good, Magleby mentioned Nate Augspurger and Garrett Bender from the Youngbloodz and Luke Hume, and he said there were some young Chicago Lions who stood out. There were several other standouts he didn't name, like Belmont Shore's Mikey Te'o, Old Blue's Kyle Granby and Derek Lipscomb and Denver's Kyle Hitt.
How do those guys get a more serious look, outside of hoping to be selected for a territorial all-star team or a developmental team like Atlantis or Tiger Rugby?
"It can't just be a list. It's got to be guys that are accountable to the system and the system's accountable to them. We don't just name them, but we actually spend resource developing them, said Magleby.
"There's a lot of guys that are on their own moving themselves to San Diego knowing there's only a limited number of contracts and there's only a limited number of resource for guys at the Olympic Training Center, but you're there, you work part-time, you find a club there, you get in front of the National Team all the time. Some of your chances start increasing, and you get in that environment and you go from a tier 2 player to tier 1 to an athlete-supported guy."
Magleby said also said he'd like to see some academies and more high-level training environments created and supported with funding.
"I don't think there's going to be these big visual changes. We're not going to be able to build facilities tomorrow," he said.
"But take advantage of some existing resources, combine them in better ways, do a much better job of onnecting the National Team staff with kind of our top club coaches, giving players a way to say I'm a good player, I'm a good athlete, OK you go to this environment. You are then committed to a certain number of training sessions a year, a certain number of matches a year."
Magleby added that these developments have to happen sooner than later. But even sooner than that, there are a couple of more chances for players to better their chances of becoming an Eagle, starting with Saturday's Serevi Rugbytown Sevens in Glendale, Colo. and the National All Star Championships the following weekend.