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Consider on word, ruck, and you should consider the first guy in, the decision whether the second guy goes in or not. You have to look at the speed of the halfback to the ball. Is he too far? Does someone else jump in? Does the second guy driving in detach and pass? And then you have to look at the tackled player – how he engages contact, how he places the ball. And we haven’t even looked at the defensive side of the ball.
USA 7s team Head Coach Alex Magleby has been hard at work addressing those many facets.
“We’re looking at the restarts,” Magleby told RUGBYMag.com. “We’re winning a higher percentage of restarts than we were, but we need to be better.”
Increase emphasis on the restart helped drive the USA up in the World Series standings some years ago, but other countries have worked hard on winning and defending restarts, so that aspect of play is becoming more complex.
“There are more Xs and Os involved in it,” said Magleby. “Now you’d think the United States would be good at this part of the game. As a country we coach Xs and Os well, and we have the athletes and the skills – it’s working the post, boxing out – to do well. But we still have to work at it.”
Magleby also wants to see improvement in other areas. The team is tackling
better, but still needs to improve.
“We do need to make a high percentage of our tackles, but, again, that’s only a number,” he said. “You can make 100% of your tackles and still lose the game if you’re not in position.”
He wants to see the team be stronger in the breakdown - it’s easy to point to games against Samoa and Fiji in Las Vegas where the USA gave up crucial tries because they couldn’t hold the ruck and win their own ball.
And he wants to see the team play with the confidence they started to find at the USA 7s.