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If not Matt Hawkins, then who? It won’t be Alex Magleby. He stepped down after last year’s World Cup, largely because he didn’t want to spend the majority of his time on one coast while his wife was on the other. That hasn’t changed, and Magleby’s stepped into the role of 7s national development director for USA Rugby, which allows him to keep doing what he’s doing at Dartmouth and still be involved.
Serevi or Ben Gollings? They’re certainly worth talking about. Gollings doesn’t make a lot of sense right now, though. Consider he was just tabbed to lead the American team at the Youth Olympics, and the fact that all signs point toward USA Rugby having known they were going to sack Hawkins for some time, and it just doesn’t make sense that they’d have their new Eagles coach spend valuable lead-up time for the IRB 7s World Series coaching age-grade.
Gollings also lacks experience, much like the man USA Rugby just let go did when he took the job on. Gollings has coached the Sri Lankan national team, and his work biography says he coached the Australian 7s team while still playing for England, but he’s never been the guy standing on the sideline making all the decisions on the circuit before.
Serevi has the coaching experience. Other than the fact that he’s busy building a brand and a company here in the United States, there’s no compelling reason to say he wouldn’t be a candidate for the job, but I think it’s going to be Mike Friday.
Friday coached England from 2003-2006, leading the team to third- and second-place finishes in the World Series. Most recently he coached Kenya during the 2012/2013 season, turning a 12th-place team in the World Series standings into a fifth-place team, and a fourth-place team at the 2013 7s World Cup, before leaving the program. Depending what reports you believe, Friday was either sacked or chose to leave on his own, but the consensus is there was a rub between him and the Kenyan union about resources for the program.
Friday made it public last summer that he wanted the then-vacant England job after Ben Ryan left for Fiji, but it went to someone else, and he was signed on as backs coach for the London Scottish. In recent months, he’s coached Samurai – a professional touring 7s side – to a GB 7s title. His leading try scorer? Carlin Isles.
Friday’s running mate and strength & conditioning coach in Kenya, Chris Brown, is rumored to be coming Stateside to work with the National Team himself, and Friday has a longtime relationship with Ben Gollings, having coached him in the England setup. So he has the American connections, for sure.
With little time left to get the Eagles going in the right direction for Olympic qualification, USA Rugby has to bring someone in with a track record of success at the highest level and turning teams around. Friday has that, and not only do I think he’s the right guy for the job, I think he’s the guy who’ll get the job.