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20 March 2014


Great article. We need to promote our rugby players to the same standard found in college and pro sports. This will bring better athletes to the sport and make rugby more appealing to sponsors. USA Rugby does not appear to know much about marketing or social media. The more fans identify with players the stronger that fan base becomes. Every Eagle should have a strong social media identity. Eagles should be coached and supported in social media.

We've been asking for this information for years. If the goal was effective growth of rugby in the USA, this is one of those minor things that would have been done.

The goal is to grow the game just enough to point at pieces of the puzzle and declare "Look what I did!", but keep that growth just below any level that would threaten the balance of power in the IRB.

Best article on this site in a long time, well done. It's impossible to be a fan of the team when you don't know who the players are. It goes hand-in-hand with the way USA Rugby promotes one star player rather than sharing the numerous compelling stories that make up any rugby team; especially the Eagles with their variety of backgrounds and development pathways.

Along those lines, how can young American players aspire to be an Eagle if they have no basic info to go on - size, strength, speed, statistics, etc. It's a major failure of American rugby not to capitalize on our nation's love of player bios, stats, highlights, etc.

Hate to sound like the olde curmudgeon BUT just to show it can be done... when the ITT competition was held as the major selection forum, the height weight dob of the 100 players was in a database and posted on the wall of the assembly room.Just sayin:)
Similarly, the Maccabiah Tryouts had these elements and times, performance results for all participants (>100).
Keep on truckin Kurt.

Just watched the Eagles draw with an amatuer team from Uraguay. Time to call a spade a spade. The Eagles and Tolkin are not worthy of being in a RWC. Time to focus my boys on lacrosse and give rugby the boot.

That's pretty stupid. Which teams yet to qualify are more worthy of being in the world cup (I will give you Japan and Fiji, who are both shoe-ins). And your participation in and support for rugby depends on the quality of our national team? What kind of ludicrous front-running is that? I'll bet you are a big fan of the Miami Heat, the NY Yankees, and Alabama football.

Not that it wasn't a shitty performance all around. Off the top of my head this has to have been the third worst result in Eagles history.

Tolkin is in over his head and loves Petri despite what everyone else knows.

After this tie Tolkin and Petri may burn down the team shed in Hot-lanta...

Third worst result in Eagles history. Really? Do you know the history of the Eagles? Do you know anything about the Eagles history in Uruguay? A draw is a reasonable result recognizing that the Eagles played like a team that had not been together since last fall. That said the Eagles scored three good tries, left another on the table and missed an easy PK. So the opportunity win was there, which is disappointing but the Eagles come home having to win - whether by a point or by thirty. Not the worst place to be.

I know that we have only lost to Uruguay once before. I know that we are nearly 7 points better in the IRB rankings, a similar distance to us and Fiji. I know that a loss at this point, whether by one or by thirty, puts us into the repechage.

What I don't understand is how leaving a try on the 8-10 points on the table can be considered encouraging signs.

*leaving a try and a penalty on the table
*leaving 8-10 points on the table

Take your pick.

Eagles development has been severely retarded by the folly of Head Coach Mike Tolkin.

Two years of player development and the bedding of a game plan that suits the skills, athleticism, physicality and psyche of the available athletes has been lost to the hubris of Tolkin. The first two years of the Boy Tolkin Era included him selecting a coaching staff full of cronies, a kick and chase game plan centered around his favorite son scrumhalf Mike Petri and his demands to select players that he has coached at the club or school grade level. Finally after a run of very poor results his coaching staff broke up with some resigning early before the wheels came completely off and other forced out as even Tolkin realized the game plan was not liked by the players and was ineffective. The new assistant coaches forced upon Tolkin brought a ball in hand game plan that was loved by the players as it exploited their physicality, athleticism and ambition to express themselves. Furthermore, the players had found some coaches in the set-up that they could respect, believe in and play for. Tolkin still insists on selecting his favorites, but the game plan and his desire to be surrounded by "yes men" has been removed. Tolkin has been neutered.

There is no debate. Tolkin is a paper lion and for those in the know his term as head coach will be remembered by how he served USA Rugby by stepping aside and letting a coaching staff of assistants take control of the game plan and the mind and heart of the players. Three cheers for the paper lion!

Great post Kurt. Front office staff all pulling double duty these after exodus of personnel, so things like player backgrounds, easy to use competition and CIPP management systems, and keeping premier league rugby competition together are low on the list.

Would love to know if the exiting staff saw the writing on the wall? Or Nigel "not a great advert for the 15-a-side game!*" Melville was weeding out those who were catching onto to his backroom shenanigans and shady dealings? Bring back Pam Kosanke!
* reference to tweet over the weekend by Dear Leader Melville

Has Cal ever been beaten as bad as they just were by UBC? 40-3. Or held to no tries? I'm curious as to when the last time a defeat like that has been experienced by the program. It is incredible for a program to never have anything but close defeats (and those few and far between) for decades on end. It makes me wonder what this defeat feels like to those players and staff.

It is also incredible that Cal maintains its high level despite never playing anyone admittedly and markedly better than them. Most people subscribe to the idea that playing a team that is at a higher level than you raises your own team's level. But I've never seen Cal go play any international teams that they would struggle to stay competitive against. Perhaps because it would cost too much to go find those teams. They've played the top men's clubs so it's not for lack of trying.

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