U.S.A. Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions regarding the upcoming Americas Rugby Championship and the Eagles fall tour.
This Is American Rugby: When and where is this year's Americas Rugby Championship? Which nations will be participating?
Mike Tolkin: October 4-14; it will be in Argentina (specific location TBA), and the teams will be USA, Canada, Jaguars, and 4th team TBD.
TIAR: The last ARC squad in essence encompassed all of the domestic-based Eagles and worked as a warm up to the Eagles 2010 Autumn tour. Will this year's team be similar to that team or will it be more developmental?
MT: This team will be much more developmental to try to build a second tier of depth/opportunity for fringe players to improve their standing. The squad will be composed of players we see as potential Eagles as well as the reserves/non-22s of the Eagle squad (fringe players). It will be relatively young in gas, but not specifically limited to a certain age range.
TIAR: Are there any positions you are targeting?
MT: We will look at trying to build some more depth at 2, 9, 10 and our kickers if possible.
TIAR: What are your goals for the team heading into the Autumn tour against Tonga, Russia, and Romania? What positives are you looking to build upon and what are some weaknesses you are looking to shore up?
MT: We are looking to improve our play from the summer - to be more efficient in our tactics, more skilled as players, and more ruthless in our approach to winning. Our aim is to win the matches and play more complete rugby. This summer we saw our team attitude as a positive as well as our positive approach to playing the game. We would like to continue to improve our scrum, tighten up our defense, to put more pressure on the opposition through playing in their end more and capitalizing on their mistakes.
TIAR: Some players who had contracts overseas last year are now without contracts (let's hope they still get one!). For those players that are returning to the United States, what would be your advice?
MT: Amateur based players have to be extremely disciplined about their fitness. Since they are not in a professional sports set-up, they need to stick to their fitness plan and to test themselves using coaches and teammates. These players also need the same approach towards their skills, fundamental and position specific. These players can't rely on 2/week training session; they need to do it everyday in order to compete internationally with success.
TIAR: The Junior Eagles had a very successful JWRT and will play in the JWC next year, how involved are you and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff with the team?
MT: We offer our tactics and systems from our system if they want to employ them. We ask the coaches to start putting in some basics of play that we would like our players to obtain, but it is mainly their show. They know their team and how to get the most out of the players they have using the appropriate tactics. If they need anything at all, we are here.