You are here
It's been a light week for the USA team as they look toward playing Russia at London's Allianz Park on Saturday afternoon (kickoff 3pm GMT).
For some of the players, the international assembly has been the daily order of things since early October and the ARC. Others have been playing pro rugby only to jump in with the Eagles. It's draining, and Head Coach Mike Tolkin has decided to keep the sessions untaxing.
Tuesday was the team's toughest session of the week, and Wednesday has been an off day before one more on-field session and then the captain's run on Friday. With the captain's run basically a bit of unopposed, a chance to test the actual playing surface, and a media opportunity, the work has to be done off the field.
On the field, "we put more focus on fine-tuning," Tolkin told RUGBYMag.com. "Special teams - kickoffs, 22 dropouts, etcetera - perfecting details of particular patterns. [We want to] make sure our exits are on target, and more work on kick exchanges and countering."
Off the field, life can get monotonous for a professional athlete. By the third week, the hotels all seem the same. Tolkin and his staff try to break things up by giving players an opportunity to see some sights (the stop-off in Munich for a long layover between Philadelphia and Tbilisi is an excellent example).
"That stuff definitely helps," said Tolkin. "This trip was tough because we had three time zones (all very different), lot of travel and some tired bodies here."
So rugby training becomes more about film sessions, one-on-one meetings with coaches, and some team-building and goofy stuff.
"I want them to be well-rested, and I wanted to be crystal clear on what we are trying to achieve and relaxed in the mind until game day, when we start revving up the intensity," said Tolkin. "I want them confident, clear-thinking, and having eagerness and confidence for the game to come on."
Overall against Georgia the Eagles showed sufficient clear-thinking, and at key moments their support play and intensity was solid. Now, with what is anticipated to be more of a pro-US crowd, they have to be a little bit better.
"We see Saturday as a big game where we can build on the progress we have made on this tour," said Tolking. "We would like to play some good and entertaining rugby for many Brits and ex-pats who may see the Americans live for the first and only time. We want them to come away with positive thoughts."