Friday, January 18, 2013

Tolkin Unveils Eagles Summer Schedule, Affirms Pacific Nations Cup & Golden Lions Tour


We caught up with Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin recently and covered a variety of different topics. We'll bring you most of those early next week but today we wanted share what Tolkin revealed regarding the Eagles upcoming schedule. While he stressed that some of these dates were not yet firm and that contracts had not yet been signed, he also seem confident that not much would change. Here is what he revealed:

April 13th: Golden Lions vs. U.S. Invitational in California

Tolkin noted that the Lions envisaged the matches in Vancouver and California to include a team of combined North American internationals as well as seven internationals of the Lions choosing. Tolkin prefers that the match in California feature U.S. players with the seven internationals while the match in Vancouver feature Canadian player along with the Seven internationals, but he also expressed that much of that was up to the Lions.

Tolkin reassured TIAR that "we're going to have a bunch of our domestic guys involved...my intention is to use all the top guys that are here to get them a high-level competitive game." He added that "since the Lions are paying the bills they want seven foreign internationals. The internationals will probably be based in Japan since their season will be over." One of the venues being discussed for the match is Cal State Fullerton.

Take the jump to read more.
May 25th: Canada 'A' vs. Eagles Selects in Edmonton

That's the same day as the Elite Cup final but it was the best date available. Tolkin said that "we're going to try and get the best domestic guys we have and then see what's going on with the international guys. Obviously we wouldn't be able to use any of the guys playing over in Europe due to their on-going seasons."

The Eagles will then have two matches at home:

June 8th: Eagles vs. Ireland in Houston (BBVA Compass Stadium)

This match is set in stone and has been reported on for some time.

June 14th: Eagles vs. Tonga in Salt Lake City (Rio Tinto Stadium)

Tolkin made sure to point out that this was not an absolute definite at this point but that it looked likely, giving it a 90% chance.

The Eagles will then travel to Japan for the Pacific Nations Cup:

June 19th: Eagles vs. Fiji

June 23rd: Eagles vs. Japan

Tolkin said that "the trip is good to have because we're playing good matches but it will be a tough test playing Fiji and Japan close together."

Lastly, the U.S. has World Cup Qualifying in July:

July 20th: Eagles vs. Canada in Atlanta (Kennesaw State University soccer stadium)

July 27th or 28th: Eagles vs. Canada in Toronto


Overall, this summer schedule differs from what we have been able to gather from the far-flung reaches of the internet, but it's nice to finally have something we can use to arrange our calendars. One of the biggest concerns based on rumored information was that a trip to Japan for the Pacific Nations Cup would be too close to the World Cup Qualifiers and would lead to tired players. That appears to be settled and the team should have plenty of time to recuperate. The U.S. will now also see three home matches (a fourth if you count the Lions match), and two matches in Canada. They will also have six full internationals.

Here are some more quotes from Tolkin:

On designing the schedule:

"It wasn't necessarily my hands. It's an IRB sponsored tournament (the Pacific Nations Cup) so they had the reigns on the schedule. But in terms of what we wanted, we went to them and asked for more games and they came back with the Pacific Nations Cup. The tournament is about getting overall international games and experiences."

On player fatigue, especially professional players during a long summer:

"We have to be smart about it. We have to use a rotation and take the opportunity to get our fringe players and younger players games. We're going to be smart and work with our international players. They obviously need rest."

What do you think of the schedule? Are you planning on attending a match? Are you disappointed or excited the the U.S. Invitational team will feature foreign internationals?

38 comments:

  1. Way to go! I was planning on getting to the CRC, but may have to shelve those plans and go to Georgia instead. There seemed to be enthusiasm from the Southeast to host an event, now they get a chance to show they deserve it. KSU's stadium seats just over 8k. It needs to sell out.

    In the topic of internationals, did Tolkin say anything about Ireland not being a test match? Last time they came over it was during a Lions tour and wasn't a full international. Word on the street is they're doing it again.

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  2. I am mad now, WTF! The Canada game is going to be in Atlanta! When was the last time you thought of Atlanta and Rugby in the same thought? This is BS! Infinity and Denver has been good to the Eagles and this how they are repaid? The Canada game should be at Infinity!

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    1. Glendale has seen alot of international games....give some other part of the country a chance.

      Why not make the trip the Greater Atlanta?

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    2. Southern rugby fanJanuary 18, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Get off your high horse, Colorado boy. We need some matches in the South too. It's not like Atlanta's a rugby wasteland, I'd even suggest it's one of the U.S.'s top rugby towns, it just lacked a proper venue for internationals until now. We've got Life, perennial RSL and CPD contender; two other Division 1 clubs with the Renegades and Old White (OW might be Division 2 now, but still a quality club); and the most active regional all-star team in the U.S.

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    3. Shaun, US International matches in the south have done well. Atlanta hosted Ireland a over a decade ago with a better-than-expected crowd showing up in the rain to watch the Irish trounce us.

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    4. To add to Southern Rugby Fans point besides The Renegades, Life and OW Atlanta and its metro area is home to four division three clubs High Country, Bucks, Gwinnett Grits, and North Atlanta. Plus all of the local college and high school programs that are taking off in Georgia and the Southeast. it should be a well attended game.

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    5. All good points, however the Eagles need a "Home Stadium". Every other major rugby nation's team has a designated "Home Field". I know your thinking "we are not a major rugby nation", true. However we want to be... and we never will be until we start acting like one. From both the bottom up and top down. Infinity was becoming that home for the Eagles.

      Granted yes it may not be the long term answer. In the short term though... does it really get any better then Infinity? Really think about it. Facilities, staff, broadcasting, community, etc. All in a bite size form that the Eagles can afford.

      USA Rugby and the Eagles need to embrace an nurture the relationship with Infinity or Infinity will put their focus else were. Trust me, Infinity is the farthest thing you can get from an idle organization. Infinity have promoted and marketed rugby to Americans more then all the top teams in the country combined.

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    6. I would like to say though... the fact that we are even having this debate at all gives me warm fuzzies hehe.

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    7. US Soccer doesn't have a "home stadium" and they draw just fine no matter where they hold an international. If you want rugby to catch on properly in this country, you need to move home tests around.

      Nothing wrong with having it at Kennesaw State either. Its a fantastic facility.

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  3. I was just commenting about a game at KSU. I had no idea literally. This is awesome.

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  4. Looking forward to attending the matches in Houston and Toronto. Love the busy schedule, should be a great opportunity for a lot of players to get quality match time.

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  5. TIAR,

    Could you please confirm which match against Canada counts towards the Pacific Nations Cup?

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  6. I am looking forward to attending the game in Atlanta and I hole I can make the one in Houston as well.

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  7. There should be a match in hawaii, the fastest growing market

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    1. The USA v Tonga was supposed to be in Hawaii.

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    2. Wil any of these games be broadcast on tv or online?

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    3. Too bad Hawaii is a sh*t-show of disorganization that no rational rugby person would be involvved with. They have a three-faction civil war going on in their rugby community.

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    4. I'm sure Universal Sports will broadcast all the Eagles matches. I doubt the Golden Lions match will be televised though.

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  8. there are pleanty of locations here in the sf bay area, keezar stadium, stanford football stadium. but salt lake again? last usa game held here was in 09 against ireland and that was 10k. with the game against tonga would get more fans with there being a big island population here. usa rugby needs to spread these games out to different regions and rotate them every year amongst known cities. west,central, east. in the east three locations, sf bay area,LA , utah should have a rotation. if usa has three home matches a year play them where you know the crowd will show up.

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  9. Kenneshaw Stadium is only 25 minutes drive from the center of downtown Atlanta.

    USA Rugby needs to develop a viable Test Match venue in the southeast and this sounds like a good place at the moment. Plus the Life rugby community is right there for fan support as well.

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    1. You are correct. KSU is a very good place... at the moment. Long-term, the southeast needs a larger rugby friendly venue. The Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, has been trying to get a MLS team in Atlanta and will need to commit to building a stadium before the MLS considers Atlanta.

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  10. So far Houston, Salt Lake City and Denver all seen like decent Test venues. If Kenneshaw works out that is the Southeast covered. Now we just need the Pacific Coast, Mideast and North East.

    Maybe the new SJ Earthquakes, Livestrong Park in KC and PPL Park in Philly.

    That gives USA Rugby 7 regional Test venues.

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  11. The issue in Denver is that if the Eagles start drawing crowds like the Houston one on a regular basis in multiple cities around the country, Glendale is too small. The MLS stadium in Denver is in the middle of nowhere and didn't really draw good crowds when the Churchill Cup was there. That may change once light rail gets expanded out there, though. Speaking of venues in Colorado, I've heard that the new proposed Colorado State football stadium will be designed to host rugby matches (along with soccer, lacrosse, etc.). Not sure Fort Collins would be the best venue for an Eagles test but it's interesting that rugby has made enough inroads in the US to be considered in stadium designs.

    Sacramento's Hornet Stadium is the perfect size at 22,000. It also has close to the right dimensions because of the track and hosted CFL games in the 90s (CFL field is close to the same size as rugby). A test match in Sacramento would draw very, very well.

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    1. Sacrements would be a good location for a Test match. Maybe San José would be a good central location between SF Bay area and Sacramento?

      I agree Infinity park needs to expand to at least 10000 in order to host future Eagles matches.

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    2. Sacramento's stadium has turf, so you can kiss that thought goodbye.

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    3. It is entirely conceivable that Infinity will expand in the future. The south stands could be rebuild to at least twice or more of their current size. I'm sure it could expand to fit 10k supporters. I don't think it could get much bigger then that though.

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    4. San Jose is further from Sacramento than the rest of the Bay Area so it wouldn't be much of a compromise. Plus, much of the appeal of holding a match in Sacramento is that it would get good local media coverage in Sacramento due to a lack of competing options. I don't think it would get near the same level of coverage in the Bay Area.

      As for turf, I'm not up on which specific turfs are IRB approved but turf doesn't automatically rule out a stadium for rugby anymore.

      Re: Infinity, they could probably get to 10k, but what would be their incentive to do so? Glendale doesn't fill it for club matches and neither do CU or CSU when they play there so they'd be expanding the stadium for the purpose of one match per year.

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  12. Respect from Russia. Good work by US Rugby Union. Guys, how do you persuade the IRB to have included in Pacific Cup? And would you pay to participate or is it free?

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    1. The IRB pays for the PNC. The US was included due to our consistent ranking in the top 20 over the years.


      The top 10 countries all have major tournaments to play in....e.g. the 6N and The Rugby Championship. So the IRB is trying to organize à tournament for the next group of countries 11 to 17th.

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    2. I really like what Russia is doing right now. o would love to see à more consistent Cup Series with Russia that takes place everybfew year.

      Better yet would take the top tier 2 rugby nations in Europe...Spain, Portugal, Georgia, Romainia and Russia. Rotate these countries where they play a match in the US in June and then the US goes to Europe in November and plays the same country away.

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    3. I disappoint you. Unfortunately, after the World Cup 2011 we complete failure in Rugby 15. Many issues are not solved. Federation occupied only rugby-7 ... I hope that after the World Cup 2013 Rugby 7 in Moscow, they will be engaged in the development of rugby 15.As for the tests. We would like to have the June tests at home, because of the climate allows us to play rugby from May (April) to October in Russia. For this reason, we are all the home games in February and March only play in Sochi, but this is not rugby town.

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  13. Dont worry Russia will get there. All the tier 2nations have put 7s first because of the Olympics, your 15s will come.

    Russia should push to form à competition with Georgia and Romania. This could take place in November. Then in Feburary/March you could play in the European Nations Cup. In June travel to the Americas and play a couple of Test Matches with the likes of the USA, Canada, Uruguay, Chile etc.

    That gives you 8 tests right there.

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  14. Would love to see Russia, Romania, Georgia, Spain, Portugal, & Ukraine in a Tier 6N-type tournament where the winner is afforded an opportunity to challenge the Wooden Spoon recipient for promotion/relegation to 6N.

    BTW Russia, I got to spend this weekend with your Women's 7s Team. Top notch unit you've got there. Grigory Malyutin and Pasha Baranovsky have put together a good team. They should give Australia some fits in pool play in Houston!

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    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Nations_Cup_(rugby_union)

      There is already something very similar in place, with the exception of promotion/relegation to the 6 nations.

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    2. I was going to say there is already something in place around the time of the 6N. Even though the European Nations Cup does not have pro/relegation into the 6N, it does have 5 divisions with it's own pro/relegations.

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    3. Yes, there ENC, there are good competitors (now ranking IRB Georgia, Spain, Romania, Russia, Belgium and Portugal occupy positions 17-22). But there is a big disadvantage in this tournament - the calendar (all games are held in February-March) as the 6 Nations, for Spain and Portugal, there is no problem, but for Georgia and Romania, and especially Russia has big problems with whether. Because of the climate we can not play home games in different cities, and only play in Sochi(south resort town with subtropical climate) with empty stands all games...
      Fans offer different options and ideas of how to change the situation, but the president Rugby Federation (Kopyev) is engaged in its own businesses, not the solution of problems of rugby.

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    4. As for the 6 Nations, this is conservative organization. By the way, in the 80's, when the Soviet Union was a 6 team in Europe, we then took 2nd place in the ENC after France, not counting the 5 Nations and had a positive ballance v. Italy (9 wins and 3 losses), invited us wanted to see the 95 in the 6 nations. But the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a terrible economic crisis and recession in rugby, and in Italy in time used the situation (well done).
      Of course, we would like to interact with 6 Nations, I like the option of two levels of European countries - holding the Rugby European Cup (REC). Hold competitions every four years, so as not to interfere with the World Cup (as in soccer). Alternative format such as:
      6 Nations + top 4 teams from the ENC = 10 teams
      2 groups by rating IRB (for example at the moment):
      A (France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Russia)
      B (England, Wales, Scotland, Georgia, Romania)  
      + semi-finals, the match for the 3rd place and the final.
      Total of 4 to 6 games, the first few tournaments it would be good to hold in level 2 (Russia, Romania, Spain ..) where there are big stadiums.

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  15. Just so everyone knows the Canada test is being held at "Kennesaw State University" not "Kenneshaw". Just wanted to clarify that just in case people were trying to get more info on it.

    http://www.ksuowls.com/index.aspx?path=wsoc

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