The USA Men’s 7s team is in Moscow now looking at the business end of not only their season, but Alex Magleby’s tenure as the 7s team Head Coach.
In less than four days the Eagle men will open up their RWC 7s campaign against Georgia, and on the 29th they play Canada and New Zealand. It will be a supremely difficult pool for the Eagles because, in part, they have never beaten New Zealand. If that history holds true, the USA will have to beat both Georgia and Canada by large enough margins to secure a strong points difference in order to make the Cup Quarterfinals.
Only two of the four 2nd-place teams make the quarterfinals, and several other pools offer much better opportunities in which to load up on points.
Still the Americans go into the tournament with high expectations. They have been playing well of late, and after an assembly at Chula Vista, they took a trip up to Seattle to train for a few days with the Serevi program.
“It was beautiful,” said Nick Edwards. “The weather turned on for us, and the whole Serevi Crew was beautiful. We’ve been wined and dined, so to speak, and it was lovely, one of the highlights of the year.”
It has been a very long season for the USA team, starting, as it did, in August with the World Cup Qualifiers. During that time they have experienced some significant ups and downs, and plenty of turmoil – changes in personnel, changes in the captaincy, benching, reinstatements, and the recent announcement that Magleby will be stepping down for family reasons.
“It has been a long season and a lot of guys were casting about for things to keep them [engaged] and so, yeah, [the trip to Seattle] has been nice,” said Edwards.
But scrimmages aren’t the real thing, and after playing a lot of quasi-touch, the Eagles want to hit somebody, tired or not.
“Peronsally and speaking for the team, we do well when we’re confrontational,” said Edwards. “We have gotten a lot smarter about moving the ball, but we like to be physical. For us, then the most important thing for us is we’ve got a great medical staff, and they are really tailoring our recovery program to help us succeed.”
The scrimmaging so far has been OK, added Edwards. The team is learning to communicate better on defense – a crucial part of their game – and support each other (a function of the fact that most scrimmages call tackles on two-hand touch, and you can’t break through a two-hand touch).
“But not being able to tackle and be as physical as we are is frustrating,” he said. “A guy like me, I like to think I am going to challenge the tackle or make meters or look for an offload, and then Zack Test is doing the same thing on the other side. Playing a touch game is not our bread and butter, but it has forced us to work on some other things – some of the simple things, and that’s helped us.”