Scoring a try as an international is a wonderful feeling.
When Taylor Mokate had his first opportunity to do it, he made a mistake, dropping a pass for the USA 7s team at the Hong Kong 7s.
But when you fail you learn, and Mokate made no mistake last week, as he was in support twice on a single movement to eventually score the best try of the weekend to help the Eagles beat Georgia 36-20.
For the former University of Oklahoma All American, who has been playing club rugby in New Zealand this past fall and spring, the try was a nice cap to a very strong performance in his first Eagle 15s start.
“One thing that helped me was the fact that I learned in Hong Kong that I was thinking too far ahead,” Mokate told RUGBYMag.com. “This time I was able to focus on the task at hand, have my hands out, be in support, and run good support lines. You know, keep up with the fast guys and hope you get an inside ball, which worked out. But the crowd, that was my third set of legs out there; I probably wouldn’t have scored that try if they weren’t there.”
Let the coaches worry about long term things, then. The players, especially players new to the team, would do well to heed the advice of taking each play as it comes.
“Focus on the present, the moment at hand; it’s a good way to live life, as well,” said the flanker-philosopher.
Mokate has had a lot of work to do to get up to speed as a blindside flanker for the team, but he has adjusted well. He is a former USA U20 and All American, just like the others in the back row, Todd Clever and Scott LaValla, and they seem to play well together.
“The system is something for the coaches to decide, but I think the guys played with enough heart that it took Georgia out of their element,” Mokate said. “Hopefully we can work out some kinks and do even better against Italy. As for all of us being former U19s, U20s, I take pride in the system we came up in. We didn’t start at a high level by any means. We started playing high school ball, and even younger nowadays. It’s just a matter of buying into the system your coaches give you and building from there.”
Of the 15 starters against Georgia and Italy (the same 15), eight went through the USA age-grade program, with three, Mike Petri, Scott LaValla, and James Paterson, captaining the U19s or U20s.