USA 7s team head coach Alex Magleby isn’t one to get too excited about things.
It’s not that he isn’t enthusiastic, or competitive, because he’s both of those; it’s just that he often tempers his emotions with a studied look at what’s in front of him.
So when one looks at the USA Falcons winning the Serevi 7s, he is likely to remind himself, and his players, that winning is nice (and winning the prize money is nice, too), but the teams they beat, even the better ones, were not made up of teams of players at their peak.
It’s fair to say that Samurai and Serevi had some excellent and very experienced players out there, but they weren’t the same as New Zealand or Fiji – there’s still work to be done.
“Glendale was good – it was good to win and show that we’re on the right track, and build confidence,” said Magleby. “We got to play and get better. But it’s just the start.”
Looking ahead, this weekend is hugely important. The USA and Canada are heavily favored to finish 1 and 2 (or 2 and 1) in the NACRA 7s and secure their places in the Rugby World Cup 7s in Moscow next June.
“There are three aspects to this tournament,” said Magleby, defusing, once again, the opportunity to get caught up in the excitement of it all. “Obviously it’s our local, North American championship and we want to win, and especially to beat Canada, who are our rivals. And we also want to qualify for the World Cup. But we also need to use this to get ready for the IRB World Series. As much as anything we want to use this as an opportunity to develop our 7s program.”
With that approach Magleby is also making it clear that he expects more than just beating the teams the USA is expected to beat.
Stuck in a smaller group (the men’s competition has two groups of four and one group of three – the USA, Jamaica, and St. Vincent & the Grandines), the Eagles actually only have two pool games to get started.
“We don’t really know anything about Jamaica or St. Vincent,” said Magleby. “So we can’t take anything for granted.”
And that, perhaps, is the main message over everything else. The USA team is in a full-time training environment, has played a warmup tournament, and has had several weeks this summer to prepare. But that doesn’t make it automatic. Bad decisions, cockiness, and sloppiness can all lead to an unfortunate loss. The Eagles are getting better, but they cannot, at this crucial time, let their guard down.