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All-time IRB 7s World Series points leader Ben Gollings has been tabbed the head coach of the boys team to compete at the Youth Olympics Aug. 17-20 in Nanjig, China. He'll be assisted by Salty Thompson, currently the head man of the High School All American program and formerly of the Junior All Americans (U20s).
USA Rugby announced it would enter a boys team and a girls team in the Games in April, and it's taken nearly three months to figure out who would lead the squads in China. Now Gollings will have just over two months to select and prepare a team for the most important tournament in the history of American age grade 7s.
Thompson's presence and knowledge of the high school-aged talent in America will surely help Gollings, who has never held an age-grade post, with player identification, acquisition and management. Many hopefuls were contacted with vague information about upcoming camps months ago, but specific information has been slow in coming.
The timing of the tournament presents a challenge to the newly minted staff, as it intersects with the beginning of the school year in many places throughout the country, and that means the beginning of football season.
Gollings is located in Seattle and is a partner at Serevi Rugby, the outfit now running USA Rugby's developmental camps. Gollings joins Men's 7s head coach Matt Hawkins, Women's 7s head coach Ric Suggitt, Women's 7s assistant Richie Walker and Men's 15s forwards coach Justin Fitzpatrick as National Team coaches from the Serevi tree.