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21 August 2013


The current team is the MOST uninspired Eagle team I have seen. This is saying a lot when you consider the train wreck that the team was during Thorburn and Johnson era (short as they were).

Bring back O'Sullivan at the high salary he was paid. As bad as the style of play was, they played with spirit.

@Luck of the Irish

You must be joking. I'm unhappy with some of the play that I've seen so far this summer, but at least we've moved out of the Eddie "Try Not To Lose By Too Much" O'Sullivan Era.

Fair enough, maybe I am just getting sick of the Eagles underachievement. Kurt tells it like it is, which is that we have to demand more from the coaches in charge and the players selected. Is a bunch of other stuff broken, yes, but that can't be the blanket excuse for being 0-6.

Tired of excuses, poor execution and the "the boys played hard" by Clever after each match.

So, I retract my bring back EOS, who then can restore some frickin pride in our Eagles? Please don't tell me Dan Payne!!!

The most underused Eagle staff position is Team Manager. The Eagles have never had a strong individual, like the British and Irish Lions, in the role of Eagle manger. The Eagles have always had a flunky in this position.

Think how much better an inexperienced Tolkins would be with an experienced manager weighing in on important decisions, like for example, who should be the team captain!

Tolkin wouldn't want this, but it is exactly what is needed. Once Tolks is fired he will have wished he surrounded himself with a far better staff. However for now, Tolks is sailing open water without a compass. No doubt trying his best while waiting for it to end badly. Who knows how he could have done with the right people around him. Certainly better than 0-6, soon to be 0-7.

How does USA Rugby fail to manage a visa for Manoa, one of their top players? Did they even know there was an issue and plan for it? Amazing. USA Rugby can't even get their players to competitions.

Can't get into Canada! The number one reason for this is when a person is declared criminally inadmissible.

A person may be denied a visa, refused entry to, or removed from Canada on any of these grounds:

security reasons, including espionage
subversion (attempts to overthrow a government, etc.)
violence or terrorism, or membership in an organization involved in any of these
human or international rights violations, including war crimes
crimes against humanity
being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions
committing a serious crime that would be punishable by a maximum prison term of at least 10 years in Canada
having been convicted of a crime, including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
organized crime, including membership in an organization that takes part in organized criminal activity, people smuggling or money laundering

I don't knows what his past record is, and it might just be a way for USA Rugby to save face because they are again being dissed in a "club over country" dispute.

Anyway, the first RWC Qualifier was a nice pre-season hit out for him before he gets down to the business of his real rugby career.

Did Manoa leave because he had no visa to Canada? Really? You can get it in 3 days tops as a US citizen unless you are a crim. Or did he realize playing here was a no win situation and returned to Europe to play a better brand of footy and get a better paycheck?

Does Barry Switzer winning a Super Bowl support or refute Kurt's point?

Great read but there are far too many layers of USA Rugby's structure - or lack of - that are simply being dismissed and laid at the feet of the players and coach... The players don't get paid - other than a guy like Samu, who is paid by the Northampton Saints. Samu plays a ton of rugby - hard rugby - nearly year round. He's beaten up, tired and facing the start of his professional season. He's not a fullback or a wing. The guy bangs every single play... So, he's placed in the lose-lose situation of playing for his country - with all the baggage of injury and conflict - and expected to be a difference maker in his diminished capacity. And his bosses are in England, not in the USA, so they are not exactly thrilled about their paid employee battling uphill during his "break" in matches. Is the visa the issue? Probably not. But he gave it a shot, didn't make a significant impact - because he is likely gassed - and the visa issue allows all to get him back to where his bread is buttered with minimal collateral damage... As for Tolkin surrounding himself with a solid staff: There is no funding for such a staff. Do you think he is purposely not staffing properly? Of course not. The bottom line is that this team needs money. And 0-7 is a reflection of that, first and foremost.

Nice try Rugby Wrap Up, but the USA rugby community is not buying it. Tolkin surrounded himself with coaches he knows and that will be subservient to his ideas and will. Starting with Smeeth who seems to have instilled an attack plan from the last decade. Tolkin also is handing out caps to the players he knows will not turn on him. These are amatuer mistakes by a coach over his skis. Tolkin must go.

To add to Rugby Sage's comments on Rugby Wrap Up post.

Tolkin's staff is all he knows. He has doesn't have real contacts, not even those of his chubby name-dropping friend.

I agree that he would be helped by having a better team manager. He needs better staff. At some point, we just need a better head coach, that's all. A better head coach includes better staff. Money plays a role but not as significant as you might think IF the head coach is legit.

The players are and act as amateurs with no supervision. Meaning on more than one occasion this year they were out in force on a Wednesday night with Thursday off on a bender chasing tail. Yes the best countries are still doing this as players, but so is our team. Acceptable??

Tweet from Pat Clifton below regarding Manoa visa.

Pat Clifton ‏@Pat_Clifton
Anyone who doesn't believe the Manoa-visa situation is wrong. It was out of USA Rugby's hands and not their fault.

So, we can only assume that criminally inadmissible was the reason he couldn't get into Canada. Canada's policies on criminal record is strict, any convictions no matter how minor or how long ago makes anyone inadmissible. It is possible to overcome the inadmissibility by submitting an application for "rehabilitation", which takes a long time and requires numerous references to prove that you are in fact rehabilitated and that further offenses are unlikely.

Why does the UK let him in? Well, the United Kingdom has a concept of "spent" conviction and immigration officers wishing to exclude or remove someone on the basis of criminal conviction must prove that the offense is not spent and therefore the person is not rehabilitated. A conviction is "spent" if more than 10 years has passed since imprisonment (if any) between 6 and 30 months. Any imprisonment over 30 month cannot ever be spent and therefore will always count against you. Imprisonment of less than 6 months or fines have an even shorter rehabilitation period (around 5 years or less).

One of two things has happen. Either Manoa has a criminal record making him inadmissible in Canada, but not in the UK because they have different standards for visa of people with criminal records. Or, Manoa and/or Northampton wanted to return early and had legal leverage on USA Rugby.

Look it's not that hard to overcome a criminal admissibility problem so don't buy that for a minute. You go to the border with all the correct documentation, pay the $200 fee, and get a temporary resident permit.

Unless he was convicted of a violent crime or is a sex offender he could get in.

You don't have to wait five years that is an excuse.

Whether Manoa's "visa issue" is legit or not is moot. USAR's attorney-of-record specializes in rugby immigration issues. Someone somewhere in the organization should have known about this months ago and filed for whatever passes as an exemption in Canada. That such did not happen in a timely manner points to the lack of professional-level support that the national team receives from Boulder.

USAR will not get any of this fixed for a few more years. The Eagles will likely continue to have "visa issues" even for RWC 2015, because Melville & Roberts are doing their job as directed by the Tier 1 countries.

Manoa has a 3 year contract at Northampton, and last year he was the players and supporters player of the year. They don't want him playing garbage rugby that doesn't help his or their brand, and is an injury risk. Internationals playing for Argentina and South Africa that have club contracts in England are promoted as part of the club's prestigious position and a reason to buy season tickets to see these internationals play for the club. Playing for USA has no upside for the club, or the player.

Toby again. What is it with this guy that Tolkin thinks is good? Did Niua not show some promise last match?

The US National Team would not miss Manoa if the US clubs were providing a deeper pool of elite rugby athletes. Good news is that the SBROs, college conferences, and GU's now have much larger budgets to fund regional development of elite players. The new Olympic Development Academies are independently owned and operated and coordinate with USA Rugby (not controlled by USA Rugby). The Northeast Rugby Olympic Development Academy was funded by the Empire and NERFU GU's, arranged its own sponsorship and just took the Plate at the World Club 7s smashing Gloucester, the JP Morgan Premiership Sevens Champion. The Northeast Academy was formed just 3 months ago by rugby minded entrepreneurs. The academy success must be replicated across the country. This can be done by the leadership in place in regions and does not require leadership or funding from USA Rugby. SBRO's, college conference and GUs leadership should be reaching out to Serevi, Tiger, and the Northeast Academy to begin developing elite player development programs.

Manoa's issue (again) is representative of the ship Tolkin is running. If there was a better vibe within the team, defeats aside, he would be there. Don't give me the "oh he has played too much" Lyle and Hodges did the same years before Manoa.

How many other players will soon not make themselves available to play for the Eagles? Seriously, what happens when Wyles, others start hidding behind their pro contracts because of this coaching staff?

Rugby Sage, you are mistaken re the claim that Tolkin has surrounded himself with subservients. He is an open-minded guy, dying to win. We know him personally and played against him for years. Does that make us blindly biased? No. But the new American Rugby fans need to know that losing to Canada, Fiji and Tonga in rugby, with the current state of the USA Rugby program, is not congruent to other national team competitions like ice hockey. Tolkin is indeed in the Hot Seat but if we just keep firing coaches without changing other things and getting proper funding, we'll be lucky to beat Iceland.

@Deal with it and the NE Rugby Olympic Academy

Slow down! After participating in one 7's tournament declaring what you're doing needs to be replicated is a laugh. This organization was formed by guys who are out of work and want a biz card with Olympic something on it. This plan should be replicated if it works, say in 36 months from now. This is when we will know if it is remotely working, ie, producing elite players in a sustainable model. Presently the term "academy" is very loosely used.

Additionally, its a laugh the organizers proclaim their independence from USAr. Isn't this the same group which cried out loud when USAr didn't deliver to their "academy" the Eagles players they were promised for the London competition?

Now we all feel for any poor soul making an agreement with the untrustworthy snake Nigel Melville, but dudes you can't have it both ways.

I have only heard people assume Manoa's carries a US passport. If he needs a visa to get into to Canada, this implies he has a Tongan passport.

Matt's you are losing any rugby cred you might have had defending Tolkin's staff. Smeeth and his Irish scrum coach are not national team coaches. Lewis is a manager in name only, he doesn't have the authority to decide the breakfast cereal. Payne might not say chit to Tolks with a mouth full. So it doesn't matter his ability.

Mike Tolkin might have been the right coach, sounds like we were both hoping he was. But Matt's, suggesting we are wrong about the Eagles staff is nuts. I agree MT is an open-minded, nice guy who is dying to win. However this isn't enough. He will not win, not with what he knows and the staff he has assembled.

Looks to me like Rugby Wrap Up should stick to the entertainment stuff, I do enjoy your funny bits. Or if you boys want some real cred, I suggest you write about the Eagles and Junior Eagles 0-12 (something like that) summer. Where between our two national teams we were one try to 50 (something like that). This rugby union is sinking like a rock and the rugby press appear to have crushes on the fools racing us to the bottom of world rugby. When is someone in the rugby press other than Gainline, going to give Melville and this Board a real report card?


He's an American citizen born in California. He likely uses his Tongan passport for club rugby in Europe, though.

Since when did we need a visa to go to Canada? Or is a visa something that is granted automatically unless a passport shows that one is undesirable for entry? And is there a database with our criminal records and passport numbers?

Or is there some other mechanism when one crosses the border for international competition?

Samu Manoa was born in Concord California and is a USA passport holder.

@Rugby Wrap Up
Tolkin's an open minded guy? My time around him included his non-stop watching of Fox News and numerous opines that were regurgitated Bill O'Riely talking points. Not saying your political believes are an indication of your rugby knowledge or communication skills, but I wouldn't call Tolkin progressive in thought at all. Probably accounts for the Eagles attack plan from the last decade and his hair style from the 90s.

That was my point. Random posters saying he is a US citizen doesn't make it so.

US citizen's don't need visas to enter Canada. Not for any reasons do US citizens need visas to enter Canada. Business men going for work purposes or rugby players going to play a game. No visas required.

If there is a visa question its because he doesn't have a US passport. I am making no judgments here. A US passport isn't required to play for the Eagles. I like him as a player and glad he plays for us. But there are a couple of choices here. One, USAr is throwing BS into the press around a visa, because the player doesn't want to play the return leg (can't really blame him, its all but pointless in reality). Or the player doesn't have a US passport. These are the only two possibilities.

Keep in mind, it is insulting either way. For the Boulders to think the GL crowd wouldn't see through a visa lie, or understand that even Tongan passport holders may enter Canada with advance visa work.

If we even slightly believe USAr, the criminal angle is throw out. He wasn't denied entry. He couldn't even attempt entry because of a visa issues.

Every corner we turn USAr is looking foolish.

@sorry wrap up: This is not The Matts... It's RWU... But that aside, we're only maintaining that the stark realities right now are all contingent on funding. The coaching staff only gets a per diem and the right to say they are the National Team's coaching staff. That is why the staff is what it is. That must change and if it changes, you'll see higher level coaches in each position.

@RugbySage: What the drop kick does Tolkin watching FOX have to do with his coaching rugby?! And are you spending your time with him in his living room or hotel room? Because other other than that, the guy is on a pitch, at a gym, in class, at an event or having a pint. We've known him since 1989 and have not watched TV with him. Not once... Just call it like it is: You don't like him as a coach for your reasons. That's fine. We'd just like to see any coach have a fair shot, and that is NOT going to happen with non-paid players, non-paid coaching staffs and a separation of duties between a CEO and a Director of Rugby. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

We missed the word "without" at the end there... Should have been "...and WITHOUT a separation of duties between a CEO and a Director of Rugby."

I bet its USA Rugby being caught in another lie. Melville and crowd don't think twice about lying to the membership of US rugby. They don't think we are worthy of the truth. It would be better if they said nothing sometimes, but they so don't rate us they think lying will keep us in line.

Just because Academies are independently owned and operated and funded doesn't mean they will not coordinate with USA Rugby in the development of elite athletes for the National Team and have National team players on their roster from time to time. Elite players need more playing time. Over 50 matches per year are expected in the Olympic Development Program. The academies are not running around trying to create a new NGB like some on this board advocate. There is no reason to wait 36 months to see if the academies work. The academies are already producing top teams playing more matches than the old national all-star format (Serevi Selects, 1823, Glendale, NRODA). What harm could come from a SBRO, College Conference, or GU from working with Serevi or Tiger to run elite camps and put together a regional select side? There are only two summers for sevens remaining before the Olympics and there is not time to wait to make changes.

Sadly the hater culture of US rugby prevents clubs from working with each other for the greater good of the growing the game. If clubs can get over themselves to develop elite athletes then the national team will improve.

@Rugby Wrap Up

Nice try, but you along with Bruce McLane and other Tolkin fanboys trying to distract the rugby community by pointing at the "there is no money in USA Rugby" while the Eagles Head Coach is in a freefall and on fire is not working. The truth is that there are more pros in the squad, more full time 7s players in the squad, more IRB high performance grants, more Eagle matches per year and the largest player pool than there ever has been in the history of the Eagles. The reality is that Tolkin is failing with more resources than any of his predecessors. The Tolkin experiment did not work. Period.

PS: It was at a hotel for a rugby event, and in most circles Fox News is considered propaganda.

@Rugby Sage: You are entitled to your opinions but we are beholden to no one and to label us "fanboys" of anyone is simply insulting. But that's obviously your intent here. We work very hard to bring quality content - unbiased content - to the rugby community and have too much respect for that community to compromise ourselves or mislead anyone by pandering. Our work speaks to that. Keep in mind that we are talking a game, here.

It's not a Visa issue with Manoa. The dude just was done with the substandard rugby played by the Eagles. I suspect he will never don the jersey again. I also suspect he doesn't truly identify as an American and doesn't really care about donning the jersey. And that's fine, he's entitled to feel that way.

As for USAR, I think they made it pretty clear that it was not a Visa issue and he made the choice to leave in their press release announcing the roster and the comment from Chad Wise in reply to a commenter.



Why don't you stop defending Tolkin and get to the bottom of whey the best player in the squad will not be playing this weekend in Canada? Do some journalism. I'll get you started. Here is what we know.

Samu's criminal record keeps him out of Canada based on what they call being criminally inadmissible. Canada's policies on criminal record is strict, any convictions no matter how minor or how long ago makes anyone inadmissible. It is possible to overcome the inadmissibility by submitting an application for "rehabilitation", which takes time and requires numerous references to prove that you are in fact rehabilitated and that further offenses are unlikely.

What the USA Rugby community should know.

Does Samu have some real nasty stuff on his criminal record that makes an application for rehabilitation impossible?

If not, why didn't USA Rugby start months ago when the Canada fixture was set USA Rugby begin the application process for rehabilitation. Being a pro athlete with references from people like the USA Rugby CEO and Chairman would be sufficient. Yes or no?

Did USA Rugby do any of these things or was the Eagles Team Manager blindsided by this issue the week before the test?

Did Samu not tell anyone so he could get back to his club and go where his bread is buttered?

Was the Eagles Team Manager or USA Rugby liable for this cockup keeping one our besst players off the field?

I know some may feel this may be trivial or an invasion of Samu's privacy, but let's say the Eagles won last weekend and had a 1 point advantage going into the match this weekend. Wouldn't not having one of our best players be important? Wouldn't knowing why it happen be important?

Get on it RWU! Or are you afraid if you did some real journalism that you will lose access to Todd and the boys?

I have (very minor) criminal convictions. I have a USA Passport. I was let into Canada with zero problems last year to watch the Eagles lose to Canada in Kingston. This is not a Visa issue. The dude was just done with the Eagles. That's it. Does he hve a criminal record? Probably; I think I read that he had some trouble years ago in his youth. But that is not the issue here. Samu Manoa simply does not want to play for the Eagles this weekend.

@Bye Bye

Good question about Samu not interested in playing for the Eagles any longer and the entry denial was a smoke screen. What rugby media outlet or journalist would have access to Tolkin or the Team Manager to find out?

Are you listening Rugby Wrap Up?

USAR isn't even trying to put up the smoke screen. Read the press release. They simply say he left to go back to Northampton.

I talked with those involved. It was definitely a visa issue.

Details please.

Tolkin said visa. Nothing to see. Move on.

Did they submsubmit a rehabilitation application?

Rugby Wrap Up is being called out for not asking the real questions the same way that RM should be called out. They (RM) first reported Samu was not going for "visa issues". RM got this information from somewhere. Now it appears they were lied to. If Samu is as it appears a US citizen then he is either bailing on the US or has a criminal record which USAR didn't get to work on in time for the rehab paperwork. USAR and all their employees can't get even the small stuff done, much less the big stuff.

RWU/RM get to work. Get off the message boards and do some real reporting.

This is American Rugby,

This is a chance to gain some cred. Why does a US citizen need a visa, none of the other US citizens on the team did? Come on, tell us you asked the question! Same old bullshit from all you guys.

It's not just as easy as working out the paperwork. I've lived in Canada, I know how the system works. There was only so much U.S.A. Rugby could do in the situation. Sometimes paperwork doesn't cut it. It's not such much about a visa as simply gaining entry. It should probably be labelled passport issues. People can insist that there is more behind this story than their actually is, but there isn't. He had issues that prevented him from entering Canada at this time and there was nothing U.S.A. Rugby could do about it.

@ TiAR,

So he is a US citizen, true?

Therefore this is about a criminal history issue. You say there was nothing USAr could do about it. So you asked, when did they start working on it right? When did they? Did they use professional legal services?

He is a U.S. citizen.

Did USA Rugby submit a rehabilitation application or not? If so, was it denied? Did Melville and Roberts provide references? Did the Canadian RuRugby UnioUnion or Northampton provide a reference? Who was our point person?

The rugby community should know. Our CIPP taxes pay for the Eagles program. What if there was only a point between the teams? Not having Samu would matter.

Nobody in the rugby media has the guts to investigate this issue. They don't want to lose access to Dreamy Todd Clever or Mikey 'Excuse Machine' Tolkin. Cowards.

Rugby Sage (AKA Tom Clayman), you cannot put it together, can you? What possible reason would Samu have for playing in Toronto this weekend? He's got a family to take care of and a check to make. The Eagles have never beat Canada by more than 15 points and they need 19 to obtain the America 1 slot. Pointless game for him. So spin a yarn about a visa (hell, it might be true). Folks like you won't put together that the rugby travel lawyers in Oklahoma could fix this if asked. TIAR knows that it doesn't matter if you dig deeper or not, USAR will say is the same thing. Asking if Melville or Roberts lifted a finger is dumb.

There's no reason for Samu to play this game. Let the man go to his family and team.

I still don't get it. I have a US Passport. I have criminal convictions. I entered Canada with absolutely no problem a year ago for the Eagles v Canada in Kingston. If it was a Visa issue and there really was nothing USA Rugby could do about it, then why wouldn't USA Rugby simply say it was a Visa issue? They've tried to make it clear it is NOT a Visa issue. Again, read the press release on USAR's website and read the comment from the press release author in response to a suggestion that it was a Visa issue. I still maintain that the guy simply did not want to be part of another debacle of a performance and just went home. Cryptic statements from the rugby "media" aren't very convincing. At this point, Tolkin should just bring back Alec Parker at lock. I bet he'd play harder than anyone else even if he is 50 years old.

Life 20-36 Ontario

Life had the lead for a while on the try of lock Kris Headlee and the boot of FH AJ McGinty.

The point is to have an accountable rugby media . Grow up shut up.

Having an accountable rugby media suggests that we have rugby media. Sorry, but there is no "rugby media" in the USA. I apologize to those out there that are providing news information to the community. You are doing your best, but none of you are professionals. Goff is the only one that gets paid to do it and he is just a blogger like everyone else. Actually, his spelling and grammar are worst than most.

Are there any true sports journalists that dare cover rugby in the USA? Nope, because there isn't any money in it, just like there isn't any money in it for players, coaches, and even bloggers. There is no need to cover it, because rugby isn't relevant. It is the truth however much it hurts.

Holding our "rugby media's" feet to the fire over some stupid Visa/non-Visa issue is beyond idiotic. The entire union is broken, we have leaders that can't be gotten rid of because they have loaded the deck, and you're giving hell to a bunch of people who provide rugby news to you for free? Now that is crazy.

Thank you Wake Up.

Rugby Sage, AKA Tom Clayman, seems to think he has an axe to grind instead of a hatchet to bury. We've all seen through his inanity by now.

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