USA Sevens was a mixed bag for the Eagles. On the upside, they netted 10 World Series points and made a Cup Quarterfinal appearance. On the downside, the Eagles won just one game and saw a couple of contracted players suffer potentially serious injuries.
Nate Augspurger broke his leg while playing for the Falcons in the LVI and Jack Halalilo suffered a facial injury that kept him out of the Plate Semifinal against Canada. The severity of Halalilo’s injury isn’t yet known, but if he broke any bones around his now swollen eye, he could be down for some time.
Like their 1-4 record in Las Vegas, the Eagles’ continued penchant for starting slow was disappointing. The USA is 0-5 in tournament-opening games this season, losing to Spain, Australia (twice), Portugal and New Zealand. In four of their five games in Las Vegas, the Eagles conceded the first try.
“I think mentally our biggest issue is we start off not very well, in a micro level in matches and in a macro level in the beginning of tournaments. I think that’s more of an issue for us. It takes us a bit of jolting to get focused, and that’s got to change,” said coach Alex Magleby.
“We’ve been working on our locker room culture and when music should be on and when music should be off and when is the opportunity for guys to be reconnecting and little things like that, but then shape the path so then it forces guys to be doing reminders with each other as opposed to playing in isolation. We’re working on it. It’s a work in progress.”
On the other hand, the Eagles were consistently competitive from the second game on in Vegas. They lost to Samoa by five, Fiji by two and Canada by five, playing arguably their best rugby of the season.
“There’s a lot of positives. The guys are starting to have faith in what we’re about and what we’re trying to do on the field,” said Magleby.
“Fewer guys are going rogue. They’re adjusting to what they’re supposed to be doing and they’re finding success that way. When they do that, we’re a very good team. When they don’t do that, they revert to some old bad habits, and bad things are going to happen.”