Glasgow not Moscow will go down as Alex Magleby's high watermark coaching the 7s Eagles, after the United States finished 13th at the past weekend's world championship.
Following an end-of-season rally which saw America vault Scotland to retain 'core' status for the 2013-14 Sevens World Series season, the US slumped to a 1-3, plate-quarterfinal exit from the quadrennial tournament. Close losses to archrival Canada and New Zealand appeared to exhaust the Eagles, who were overrun by Argentina 28-5 in the first knockout match.
Magleby's 16-month tenure, which began winding down last month after the 35-year-old announced his resignation, did not advance the 7s team commensurately with the ground gained over 2007-09. But neither did the program collapse in the wake of Al Caravelli's February 2012 firing, when Magleby was called in on short notice.
Though initially seeming reluctant to put his stamp on the 7s national team, Magleby steadied the faltering debut of USARFU's fledgling 'offsite' residency program at San Diego's Olympic Training Center, seen by union officials as America's gateway to the 'academy style' daily training environment popular among Commonwealth rugby powers.
In his only full season, Magleby's own selection of full-timers started slowly, after 4 tournaments tied with Spain for 14th. Peril lay in the IRB's new promotion-relegation system, which guaranteed automatic World Series berths only to the top 12.
By campaign's end, however, the Eagles played with the genuine purpose and aggression beloved of American rugby fans. Going into the final regular-season tournament tied with host Scotland for the last core spot, the Eagles captured the plate championship (i.e., fifth place), leaving the proud 'foundation union' to face relegation.
Then, at the end-of-year England 7s, the US reached a third consecutive plate final, and fourth winner's bracket appearance in five tournaments, surpassing archrival Canada to nab 11th place. Magleby, captain Matt Hawkins, and company had discovered how to deliver consistent results.
Off the field, Magleby's tenure saw the launch of so-called Olympic development academies, essentially privately run training programs for aspiring 7s players that interoperate with the national team.
More important, his position itself, along with Mike Tolkin's 2012 appointment to the 15s helm, allayed fears that foreign-born coaches would inevitably dominate plumb American rugby jobs.
A Dartmouth College graduate who represented the USA in both 15s and 7s before returning to coach his alma mater to several Ivy League titles and a pair of Collegiate Rugby Championships, Magbleby previously guided the Collegiate All Americans in both 7s and 15s, authoring a 2011 series victory over New Zealand Universities Under 21. The whole of his resume reinforces the view that deep domestic experience is vital to international success, that America's best test coaches first of all know the US game.