USA Men’s 7s Coach Alex Magleby says he’s not upset that his team passed up a kick at goal at the end of the Bowl Final.
The USA were down 14-12 and received a penalty just inside the Kenya 22 with no time left. Folau Niua took a quick tap, passed to his forwards, and on the ensuing possession the ball was jarred loose from Tai Enosa’s hands, essentially ending the game.
“I’m not going to fault the guys for that call,” Magleby told RUGBYMag.com. “They’re 22 meters out. That’s not a guarantee kick for us. Sure, if it’s a guarantee, if it’s 15 meters away, then maybe you take those points. But the way the game was going we had our opportunities to score, and our kickers were tired.”
Magleby added that he liked the fact that the players backed themselves.
“In no way is that decision a negative,” he said. “We could have easily scored and nobody would have brought it up.”
True enough. What might be a negative was an earlier play when the Eagles had a chance to put the Bowl Final away. They won an attacking lineout and sent the ball wide to Rocco Mauer. Mauer seemed to have space enough to go for the corner, but appeared indecisive, in the end running into contact alone, and giving up a penalty. From that sequence Kenya eventually scored.
That kind of confidence – confidence that you can score on anyone, takes time to develop.
It’s worth noting that a year ago in Hong Kong, the USA lost the Bowl Semifinal 14-12 to Japan. In that game, Taylor Mokate dropped a pass that, had he caught it, would have resulted in him scoring the winning try. When asked what happened he was brutally honest:
I was thinking I was about to catch the ball, score the try, and we’d win the game, he said later, and I took my eyes off the ball.
At this level, teams are learning that you need constant vigilance.