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23 August 2013


We have a rubbish product. Fall internationals in Europe at any of the big 6 nations are a revenue spinner for the touring side, but you need to bring a team that is competitive and will put butts in seats. Mike Tolkin's Eagles are not competitive and that's why Eagles are play only tier 2 nations this fall in Europe. You can't really complain because we are struggling to beat tier nations.

With Canada moving to number 14, 4 places ahead of #18 USA, the Eagles are barely qualified to play Canada.

I wouldn't be surprised if within the next two years we see Canada playing a fall international against Italy or Scotland and earning some revenue and playing competitively. Meanwhile the Tolkin's Eagles will be playing in Spain or Portugal in front of 3K people.

That's silly. 40% of the 6 Nations matchups are between teams separated by at least four ranks. Likewise in ENC D1A (6 Nations B). Argentina isn't within 4 of any RC team and I don't see clamoring that they don't belong.

Check out this IRB Total Rugby video featuring Tolkin's Angels Tool Clever and Mike Petite.


Interesting they feature Petri and even more interesting is the glimpses of training where box kicks seem to be the main attack feature.

The way we are playing, maybe playing less is the right plan. You will never hear this level of detail from Nige and the Boulder crew. They just keep telling everyone how well we're, they're doing.

I'll bet a beer with anyone tomorrow, I got the Eagles in a pick em.
Email or FB me or text if you have #, or sign name on bet. It's only a beer, I don't bet much but would enjoy action and when we see each other to pay, we can discuss rugby.

Canada 34
Tolkin's Beagles 12

Canada 42
Eagles 10

Sorry Bruce - just saying it how it is...

Cal 56
Tolkins Beagles 14

BYU 34
Tolkins Beagles 10

Would a combined Cal BYU team beat Tolkin's Kitty Cats ?



I still want some bets for a beer
I have a few (3) but would like a more
I have USA in a Pick 'em for a beer
Email, txt, fb, or sign name here
That said, 2 bet with heavy heart, one is Canadian
I even made a sidebet of a beer for eagles to cover
I also had beer doubles bet for eagles to qualify or I give double to Canada doubling their 1st game tally.
I think usa will win and play much better

Bruce, what can you possibly base your opinion on? While it is possible to play better, because they can't play any worse, I fail to see how you can feel this way?

If the staff had the key to unlock the door, don't you think they would have already opened it?

I want the team to win, but more important, I hope the team play like we aren't some stepchild to Rugby Canada. Didn't use to be like that.

I think they can use scrum ball better and get some momentum and they can disrupt canada and launch defense or get some points from it. I think LO can pressure and disrupt and if they can be slightly more accurate in LO as they strung first couple phases well off that and if they can build off that they can do well. Canada tackle fanned in defense so we can suck them in using pick and go but must be more decisive. We will know to bring more line speed in defense to pressure so we don't sit back and catch, and we must chase kicks with more speed.
Those simple things turn a lot around and I'm sure video will show opportunity
Key is to hold Canada to between 3-9 points and prob 6 or less if we are to qualify

If/when the eagles lose today Tolkin will be faced with the choice of losing his job or dropping Clever, Petri, L'Estrange etc. I understand these guys are trying hard but there is no c**t in the team and things need to change. We are not the AB's the Boks or Ireland, we are the god damn USA!!! Get a rugby identity and grow it.

"Get a rugby identity and grow it!"

I think we got the first part of that pretty well established last week. Today will help towards the second part.

I am officially sick to my stomach. Tolkin out on the field prior to the match, 23 players in a circle with Tolkin in the middle giving the boys a get fired up talk in front of God and everyone. How high school can this get. This is exactly what I would expect of a HS coach. Name me one international coach who would do this. And on this field, not in the locker room! Worse he looked like a red faced boy scout delivering his public talk. F*ck someone help us.

Then the Eagles get completely ripped by the Canadian color commentator. "The Eagles looked disorganized last week." "Can't see them winning".

Hey now! 8 to 8 at the half. Not too bab.

Tolkin looked more like an angry lesbian.

what makes it worse is we have just as good of players and we lose. we have better players at many positions and just as good at the others. yet we lose because we don't have a plan off the field with the coaches or on the field with a captain.

clever's comments before the game were lame, "we want to play entertaining rugby". really todd, how about we want to win?

Now that this match is over will we get a new coach ?

Tolkin 3-10 [23% Winning Percentage]

Worst Eagles coach ever?

Please, you were all waiting for a hiding of epic proportion and they played tough. We lost but it was very winnable. The guys put out and dispelled many comments. Look back at history, qualifying hasn't been pretty and this is the best qualification since at least the 99 RWC but only because I'm not sure how that went. 95 we didn't qualify and then 91 was before that. 03 we had to go to repechcage v spain after losses to Uruguay and chile, 07 Canada blew us out of the water, and 11 we lost to Canada by a bigger points diff. so while there are issues, save it or keep the criticism for all
these guys while not perfect were tough in game 2 game 1 was a bit rough.

Nice try Bruce. Tolkin is a failure. End of story.

Just because you wanted eagles to get smashed and they didn't and this was most successful qualification effort since 90's at least, don't get all nuts
Facts are facts
There are issues, focus on that but the facts remain although they don't fit the narrative. Not sure what 99 qual process was but everything after, this was most successful though it was disappointing

All round 4 matches were held in Argentina
P W D L diff pts
Argentina 3 3 0 0 161–52 9
Canada 3 2 0 1 97–83 7
United States 3 1 0 2 59–99 5
Uruguay 3 0 0 3 31–114 3

15 August 1998 Uruguay 15–38 Canada
15 August 1998 Argentina 52–24 United States
18 August 1998 Canada 31–14 United States
18 August 1998 Argentina 55–0 Uruguay
22 August 1998 United States 21–16 Uruguay
22 August 1998 Argentina 54–28 Canada

Argentina, Canada, and United States qualified for RWC 1999, Uruguay qualified for repechage.

this 95 failure to qualify was tough as there were only 16 sides and Canada was automatic as a quarterfinalist in 1991

28 May 1994 United States 22–28 Argentina Long Beach, California, USA
20 June 1994 Argentina 16–11 United States Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina Qualified for the 1995 Rugby World Cup 44–33 on Aggregate

Bruce, that was truly ugly rugby. Not only a loss but the team played ugly.
That was difficult to watch. Your buddy needs to stick to flag rugby in NYC.

Keep choking that chicken Bruce. Makes you look as desperate as the angry lesbian coaching the Eagles.

Would have been nice to have a decent kicker ....like Shaun Davies...not only poor X and O's but no ability to select the right Billy Joe's !!!!!!!!

most successful qualification? we've won a game in the qualification. we lost badly Bruce, then lost narrowly while they changed several players and had little to play for. canada were always going to qualify.

the eagles did play hard and we have good players, but the plan stinks. very unimpressed with the coaches and on-field leadership.

Is 0-7 an opinion or a stat?

There are definitely serious issues and I'm with that, but they've been issues for many years but facts are facts despite if they dispute the narrative of the peachy past. that's all i'm saying, its a challenge and they need to be better but it is a whole organization thing, not a one man thing.

In 2011 the qualification process was the same for both us and Canada. To compare:

2011: Series drawn 1-1, aggregate 47-30 (+17 to Canada, USA eventually qualifies as Americas 2.

2015: Canada wins 2-0. Aggregate 40-20 (+20 to Canada). USA likely to eventually qualify as Americas 2.

In what universe is 0-2/-20 better than 1-1/-17?

"...it's a whole organization thing, not a one man thing."

I know some people will see that as making excuses, but it is gospel truth. To acknowledge that is not to excuse Tolkien's flaws, but he is not that important. Any US team is going to have a fairly narrow band of results, and neither Tolkien nor Clive Woodward nor Graham Henry is going to get us out of that band. These results ultimately and not inaccurately reflect our relative strength to Canada as a rugby nation.

silver lining- you're right, bad math on my part (math degree too, pretty sad)

Tolkin butt boys can keep pointing at long standing issues in an attempt to distract from the fact that the red faced failure in the middle is the problem that can be repaired the quickest. Tolkin has to go.

Definitely it's the quickest fix, and I'm not suggesting that it shouldn't happen, but I don't see that it's going to make any meaningful difference.

With Tolkin, we will beat Uruguay in November, and in 2015 we will have an outside shot at beating Japan, and might keep it respectable against Scotland, Samoa, and South Africa's reserves (we will be their last game).

If we fire Tolkin and could somehow hire Graham Henry, do you honestly think that would be any different?

I guess I'm a butt boy!

Fire Tolkin and hire a coach with a game plan who will bring in young talent and not rely on 2011 RWC guys mailing it in.

I agree. We should do that. What do you think the outcome would be?

Tolkien should go, no doubt. But the hole we are in right now cannot be solved, even if we bring in Gandalf or Frodo Baggins himself. Until we rid Middle Earth of Nigel Melville, nothing will change!

Would the inclusion of Samu Manoa been worth 2 points against a weakened Canada pack missing 3 to 4 regular starters?

Why didn't USA Rugby supply Canadian Immigration the rehabilitation application with references weeks ago so Samu could get into the country to play?

Must agree with Lord Elron, the travelers (Melville and Roberts) are the issue, first. The coaching must be held accountable after that is dealt with.

The men's Eagles will suffer this fate at least until RWC 2015 (assuming they qualify). Post RWC 2015, Melville plans to leave (has planned that since he took the CEO's position). The Eagles may improve greatly after then, but the US needs too much than can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time to improve the national team to Tier 1. Maybe in another 10-15 years.

1. USAR needs someone in charge who knows how to raise money from sources other than dues.
2. USAR needs someone in charge who will oversee the creation of a national team pathway and standards (both genders) and set up Regional High Performance Academies where athletes can train and learn the systems used by the Eagles.
3. North America needs a professional 15s competition that has no links to USAR and makes it's money on its own.
4. More folks in the American rugby community need to start coaching youth rugby. Grow the sport younger. That's more important than anything else.

10-15 years is wildly optimistic. It is simply not possible, and the sooner we accept that, the better. And I won't be sorry to see the back of the guy who promised a quarterfinal in 2015.

Our ultimate goal should be to win the world cup. If we develop a plan around winning it in 2051, it may be possible.

As for #3, it is essential, but we are some ways away from that being a reality, especially the second part. It will take decades simply to cultivate that audience.

And that is another reason why #4 is so important. Youth rugby is growing, and that growth is accelerating, but there is still so much work ahead.

It is going to be fun doing it.

If Tolkin was a man, he would resign.

agree that replacing Tolkin would yield no measurable improvement. the BYU/Cal idea isn't far-fetched: their kids are in "elite" rugby environments 9mos/year.

also agree growing the youth game is important but there needs to be a viable "filtering" system within the youth game that keeps the best players in the sport. much like the national team, youth rugby teams (generally speaking) are getting the kids that no longer want to play the big 4: football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. or they're the players who weren't good enough to make a travel team within the big 4.

in CA, it is common place to try out for 2-3 travel clubs before making one - where you pay $150/month to stay on that club (this is a whole separate boat that USAR is missing).
we will turn the corner when players start going out for football, soccer, wrestling, etc because they got cut from rugby...

From Rugby Mag.com......

Melville in UK to Talk Premiership Match on US Soil

Job hunting maybe?

One can only hope

Or coach hunting ?

Didn't anyone else have an issue with the on-field decision to kick for post, twice, in the waning minutes, instead of kicking to the corner and going for the try to reduce the aggregate?

Was it really more important to go for a 1 point win, than to try and get the automatic qualifying spot?

Seems like nothing more than a loser's mentality. Yes, I understand the double speak in that...but when we have a penalty inside the 40, with 10 minutes left, and the aggregate is -20, why would kicking for post do any good, unless you're just trying to get a moral victory by winning 1 out of 2, but losing the aggregate by 17?

So hard to get behind this team.


The Can-Am Cup was up for grabs with the win. So, the win would have captured some hardware and start to rebuild the "Canada Owns Us" mentality that seems to exist in the team for years.

I was at the game. What is frustrating is that much like several other recent US / Canada games it was the Eagles that did most if the work. Canada created nothing. They did punish Eagle mistakes per usual but really they were not impressive.

Clever haters can say what they want but he had a very solid game. Wylea was fine except for his kicking: which he would not be doing if there was an alternative. The replacement FH should start the next game as should the young TH. Fry would better be used as a 60 minute sub where his play in the open will have more value. Siniulu should be dropped. He has hands of stone.

I expected the Eagles to get hammered but they showed character and stepped it up. There is real talent on this team that has been poorly served by a management team that has failed to provide funding that cheats the team of true international coaching or financial support. The players have been badly served. That needs to end.

I love how the poor performances of the Eagles this summer has been blamed on USA Rugby management and not the head coach. Does NYAC have their entire club out there spewing these talking points? Tolkin must go.

@2 kids,

It depends on how large a league you want. It doesn't need to be a fully professional setup, or need to have imports, or even put up contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars initial.

What it needs to be is highly selective. Say only 6 locales with the strongest rugby presences in the Western US. Small stadia (no more than 5k). The ITM Cup in NZ has a max salary of $85,000 with a minimum of $18,000. The $18,000 would be more on the money.

The key for any such league to succeed at the moment would be to ensure the franchises would be community supported. To ensure people show up and it gets off the ground. I know this may seem a bit far fetched but anyone looking establish this would be wise to look toward crowdfunding and directing it at the USA Rugby community.

The point is, start it with something small and compact that could be easily supported by crowds of say 1,000. This would provide a defined pathway for ambitious Rugby players.

Though, the best way to ensure that such a move is successful would be to really push the youth game. By push I mean develop a coaching standard and educate people in clubs and colleges in the art with the intent that those who participate are to look to establish new youth clubs across the country.


In order to break the gridlock between club rivalries, you need to have something to offer the clubs don't have at this time. That would be superior coaching and/or player pay packets that are a living wage to be a full time athlete. At the moment there are enough players in areas of the country to create a side that would be marketable. In So Cal there could be 1 very good squad of 50 players. Same for Nor Cal and the Pacific NW. Maybe Utah too. This is assuming that the pay is enough to get players that have just started careers out of college will play rugby instead. You could do something similar with New England, NYC, South and Midwest. There you have 8 teams based in LA, San Fran, Seattle, Salt Lake, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and NYC. Need some serious investment to launch it and you need sponsors and broadcast partners from the get go or within one season.

@Tough Ask,

It would most certainly be a tough ask. But one that needs to occur. The way I'm thinking to by starting it on one side of the country to start would keep travel a little less tedious as it would be a major expense in such a venture. It would all depend on as you mention the level of investment in the competition.

This is why I'd be interested in gauging the interest of the Rugby community to seed such as league. This is how any such set up would get up in the near future. By the entire Rugby communities of preferably of both the US and Canada looking to seed its establishment. Another key element would be broadcast. Streaming would be the first option which may be needed provided it could be set up in a professional manner.

Quit talking about pro rugby in the USA. The college game is where it can happen and is happening. Pro rugby is having a tough go in rugby mad nations an you guys think some magical money man from the sky is going to fund pro rugby in the States ?

BYU and Cal are the leaders of rugby in the States. They prove it by putting paid customers in the seats and picking up a tv deal.

Read what I suggest. There's no "magical money man". It would be community driven. The issue with college Rugby is that competition is very, very limited. Outside of a handful of teams there really isn't a great deal of depth.

Also, which nations is Pro Rugby having a tough time? Both the Pro12 and Aviva have just recently signed off on newer more lucrative TV deals. The Top 14 is looking to leverage a significantly larger deal off the massive growth in the competition over the past 5-10 years.

SR is on pretty strong footing with the only issues arising from the SARU's handling of the Kings issues. Hell, even Romania revitalised SupaLiga is going from strength to strength. Just because they don't get 60,000 per game doesn't mean their struggling.

There is a lot of growth potential in college rugby. They have facilities, assuming they have the admin relationship right, they have access to capital, assuming they can motivate their alumni and get assistance from the university, and they have something to offer athletes (scholarships or like Cal access to a university the athlete wouldn't get into unless made a person of interest by the rugby coach). The problem is where do they go after college to develop into international class players? The current Eagles squad has 3 or 4 guys that graduated within the last 2 to 3 years. That's not good enough. Many of the best college players disappear from representative rugby or even club rugby. That's a huge problem.

Tough Ask--that is a lot of assuming going on about 99% of the unis and colleges that play rugby.

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