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The USA Rugby South men’s 7s team went 2-1 Friday at the 7s NASC and is nicely-placed to do very well in the knockout rounds on Saturday.
The Panthers lost a close one 14-10, and then thrashed a highly-regarded Pacific Coast team 35-14, before edging the Mid-Atlantic 21-15.
“We came in with a bit of an advantage,” said Head Coach Julie McCoy. “We have had a number of camps and played some games together, and that was an advantage. I don’t think it will be an advantage for us tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a different day. Other teams will come together as a team more.”
Still, it’s an impressive start. Led by the experienced Jeff Reuther and with Matt Hughston also in form, the South are a threat. Oh, and if you are looking for an advantage, how about former USA women’s 7s Head Coach McCoy?
“I am happy with today, and with the players,” said the Arkansas-based doctor. “This is serious but it’s also fun. I like players who know how to mix hard work and fun. It’s been tough, being a woman coaching a men’s select team. There are some players who don’t want to play for a woman – in the South it’s not always easy! But the guys who are willing to listen find out that I know some things.”
Certainly she does, and the South proved that, especially when, after falling behind 14-0, they ran in Five converted tries to dispose of the Pacific Coast. The Grizzlies, who did not expect the South to be so fit and to finish so well, were shocked.
“Our energy level was high and it stayed high throughout the game,” said McCoy. “Against MARFU I don’t think our energy level was as high, and they had nothing to lose. It’s tough, things can go well or not; it’s like that old sports show slogan, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. That ski-jumper crashing – that’s exactly what 7s is like.”
All eight teams get re-seeded and the South will take on the West.
“The West is a good team, well-coached, and they play 7s very differently from the way we play,” said McCoy. “It’s all going to be different tomorrow.”