OK so the important question first. At what point did Brett Thompson, newest USA 7s player and the tallest on the current squad at six-feet-four, become taller than his father, High School All American Head Coach Salty.
Salty Thompson is not 6-4, and Brett, after laughing at the question answered simple, “some time in middle school.”
Brett Thompson played football at the University of Arizona, and impressed as a walk-on who played plenty of special teams. But his heart was with rugby, and he eventually told the coaches that he needed to make a change.
“I think the football helped him tremendously,” said Thompson the elder. “What football did for him was expose him to that daily regimen of training, competition and expectations. It’s an environment where you have to prove yourself all the time. When he went to Chula Vista, I think he was in a situation where he understood the daily routine, and how the grind of it is a test of discipline.”
Getting up early in the morning to weight train and study film and practice for football got Brett ready for training with the USA.
“Football was a full-time job,” added Thompson the younger. “If I had kept doing football, I would be happy, but I like rugby too much. After my second year at football, I decided I missed it too much.”
He discovered that training for 7s, when he needed to stay light and fast, and spring football, where here was expected to put on weight, forced a decision.
Thompson spent a year at Queen’s University in Ireland, and was back in time to help Arizona make the final of the 2012 USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship. His height, combined with his sidestepping ability and speed make him an excellent addition to the USA program. But he also knows that he lacks international experience. While Thompson was on the USA U20 team with Tai Enosa and Zack Test, those two have logged years of time with the Eagle 7s program. This is Thompson’s first shot.
“I am just trying to be the best rugby player I can be,” said Thompson. “I was looking for some high-level competition, and when Coach Magleby offered me this opportunity – a good training environment, and a chance at the team, but no guarantees, I jumped at it.”
Growing up 7s was a road to fun for Thompson. He played 7s as a high schooler during the summer. It wasn’t until the CRC that he saw how serious it could be.
“I saw how 7s could be showcased nationally,” said Thompson.
Now with the Eagles and training for his first tournament, Thompson is being mentored by Matt Hawkins and other more experienced players, and that will likely continue in games.
“I want to show what I can do but I know I have to earn it,” said the young forward. “I want to show I run good lines and I have good vision. I have been around the game my whole life, and I feel like I understand the game well. But I also know I have more things to work on.
“When Coach Magleby sat me down and told me I had made the team, I was pretty giddy. This is something I have wanted. I don’t want to be one of those guys who goes on a couple of tours and just fades out. I want to focus on staying at this level and improving each time.
“The biggest thing for me is the breakdown - making the tackle and getting up on my feet and being physical. I want to work hard to be in support. And I know fitness is going to be a huge thing. I want to be the fittest guy on the field.”
Not, for Brett Thompson, a tall order. Just ask his dad.