After falling 14-12 to France in the Bowl final Friday, The Eagles have claimed seven crucial Series points and leapfrogged Scotland, Canada, and Kenya (only just) to sit at no. 10 in the world
The Eagles went 3-3 in Tokyo with losses coming from quality opponents: Cup semifinalists and Series leaders New Zealand, Tokyo Sevens champions Australia, and the team that snuck by the USA 17-12 in the Bowl Final, France.
Three wins against Hong Kong, Kenya, and Portugal gives new USA Head Coach Alexander Magleby a platform to build on in April as the USA prepares for the Glasgow (May 5-6, 2012) and London Sevens (May 12-13, 2012) and the team its first piece of hardware this season.
Overall the team looked confident and opportunistic in Japan, the result of which was exciting attacking rugby. Rocco Mauer, who was playing college rugby for Bowling Green State just last year, exploded onto the scene in Tokyo scoring four tries, putting him among the elite scorers in the tournament.
Scoring tries is great but wins are better. A basic but comprehensive team approach has allowed the USA to effectively stretch the field and release their danger men, a strategy that will notch victories and build a team's confidence.
"When the game gets simplified a bit, you can get more confident," said Magleby.
Two tournaments (Hong Kong and Tokyo) saw the Eagles improve constantly and the team is still striving to take the next steps forward.
"It's like Aristotle said, 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' These two tournaments gave us an opportunity to assess the current systems and see how we can get more out of what we're doing," said Magleby.
The coach also praised his team's ability to respond to pressure saying, "Hats off to the guys. We pushed them and they responded well. For us, the important part was getting the culture right on the field and we're getting there. The guys are committed."
The USA will play Pool A opponents Australia, England, and Kenya on May 5 in Glasgow, Scotland. The following week is the final tournament of the 2011-2012 Series in London on May 12-13.
Tries: Mauer (2)
Tries: Igna, Albaladejo, Delmas
Tries: Test(2), Hawley
Tries: Leal (2)
Tries: Hawley, Mauer
Tries: Test, Durutalo, Mauer
Cons: Enosa (3)
Hong Kong 19
Tries: Varty(2), Hood
Cons: Hood (2)
Tries: Yakopo (2), Fa'alava'au
New Zealand 26
Tries: Cama, Savea, Heem, Piutau
Cons: Cama (3)