Monday, November 9, 2015

Tolkin Must Re-apply To Coach Eagles, U.S.A. Rugby Opens Search

There is a strong chance that current Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin may not be returning to the job when his contract expires. Today U.S.A. Rugby announced that they are seeking applicants for the Eagles head coaching position and that Tolkin would have to reapply if he wanted the job. The announcement comes after the conclusion of a performance review by Director of Rugby Alex Magleby of the Eagles at the World Cup. While Tolkin may still end up as head coach of the team opening up a search would leave him with little confidence that CEO Nigel Melville and the rest of the higher-ups at U.S.A. Rugby have his back.

“We reviewed the program in great detail following the Rugby World Cup in England last month and concluded that we should invite interested coaches to apply for the role and widen the search further than the current Eagles coaching team,” said Melville in a press release. The release also noted that Magleby and former Eagles Dan Payne will review all the applicants and then make a recommendation to the U.S.A. Rugby Board. A decision is expected to be reached in December 2015.

Take the jump to read more.
While the Eagles failed to win a match at the World Cup there is little question the team made ground over the last four years. Under Tolkin they embarked on their first winning tour of Europe in nearly a decade and finished above .500 in a calendar year for the first time in years. They also regularly challenged Tier I opponents (outside of New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia) and held a three match win streak over Canada, something that had not happened in a very long time.

Still, there were some questions about how Tolkin handled some of the personnel, including Clevergate. Ultimately, that and the lack of results at the World Cup meant that U.S.A. Rugby wanted to open up the job to other applicants.

With the introduction of PRO Rugby and the Americas Six Nations the Eagles position becomes more attractive than it has been in the past. U.S.A. Rugby does not have the salary to pay a top level coach but there are some overseas options out there for potential replacements.


  1. There are enough other opinions out there about Tolkin's fitness for the job, so there is no need to offer mine.

    But what a shitty, disrespectful, cowardly way to handle the situation! If he isn't up to the task, then fire the man or announce that his contract won't be renewed. If he is worth keeping around, then sign him to an extension. But this announcement is tantamount to saying, "We don't think he is the man for the job, but we don't think anyone better will take it." Of course, by pulling this stunt, it makes the job that much less attractive to anyone with good options and a bit of dignity.

  2. New Zealand did it to Graham Henry after the 2007 World Cup, then re-hired him and he went on to win the world cup in 2011. So get your bets down now for 2019, we're a lock!

  3. I don't see how a new coach can be identified and hired by end of December unless a deal has already been made and this is just window dressing; in which case it is indeed a crappy thing to do to Tolkin.

    Unless a backdoor deal has been struck I suspect Tolkin will have the job though it should be for two years; not four. That puts him on notice that results are expected. With the new league forming as well as increased Eagle play he will have full time players and more time with the squad so some of the impediments to success will have been removed and if I have read elsewhere correctly World Rugby will be placing strength and conditioning coaches with Tier II teams. On other words Tolkin will have more resources available to him than any coach before him. Expectations should rise accordingly.

  4. While I agree this was not the way to handle this situation, I am still firmly in the camp that Tolkin must be replaced. (among others in leadership at USAR) I just hope this little stunt doesn't dissuade any good coach from giving it a try.