Studio Show: USA Eagles 7 Coach Mike Friday on Coaching Rumors, Twitter Wars, MLR, Super 7s, Paying Players


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RUGBY TOWN USA – Why it took us so long to get out to Infinity Park in Glendale, CO is even crazier/more puzzling now to us after finally landing in the Rugby Nirvana. But we certainly did our best to make up for lost time and soak in every minute of it at the rockin’ Rugby Town 7s week sets up another action-packed weekend of rugby. part of that included talking all things rugby with the always-entertaining, and most successful coach in USA Rugby history, Mike Friday. Here’s some of what Coach Friday and Matt McCarthy touched upon:

Compensating Players
-The MLR – Major League Rugby
USA Rugby’s struggles
Twitter Wars
Super 7s vs Oxford University
Rugby Town 7s
-USA Rugby Head Coach rumors
Cricket IPL model for 7s
Phil Greening’s power struggle
Beating England

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Here’s the Coach Friday segment – which includes appearances from too many rugby big wigs to list:

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USA Rugby Legend Dan Lyle re Pro Rugby In USA, NBC, AEG, MLR

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About the Author ()

Matt McCarthy comes to from their partner in the USA, RWU and MTM feature a stable of diverse contributors, with coverage that is both serious and with a wink. Find him on twitter: @Matt_McCarthy00
  • 1stXV

    Particularly poignant was Coach Friday’s comment that the USA XVs are 20-25 years behind the professional rugby world. This is a fact and it is a daunting one. We fall further behind every single day and all the fan boys out there (particularly the 2 Muppets in Georgia on their podcast) that keep trumpeting on about us being just a few years away do a disservice to the game in America.

    Dan Lyle was on a recent Rugbywrapup and talked about the need for a deep dive into the massive rugby deficit the USA faces. He knows how far behind we are because he was at the coalface. Mike Friday knows how far behind we are. John Mitchell knows how far behind we are – pity he did not have the guts to say it from the podium.

    Time to shine the bright lights on this dirty little secret. Unless and until the Eagles can field an entire squad of players that began playing rugby at age 6, America will remain a rugby backwater.

    • Great American

      7s could help get needed attention and should be the front of shop item. We aren’t going to beat Tonga in the RWC. And we won’t beat anyone else. That is the reality right now.

    • Aaron

      Age 6? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Rugby is not a technical sport like baseball. It is very similar to football and really only two positions that it helps playing at Age 6.

      If you took the top 30 athletes from Georgia Tech and built a rugby team around them, you could do some work. Rugby is a technical sport, it does require technical coaches and the one play we need to be is in every high school in America. Elite Athletes in a collision sport like Rugby develop there.

      • 1stXV

        WOW – I don’t even know where to start with that, but suffice it to say that it is opinions such as yours that have the US Eagles ranked #17 in the world and falling. That team is built just as you suggest, converting football players and the odd wrestler and track and field athlete into rugby players and they get absolutely smashed when they come up against real rugby players. Why is that? It is not because the athletes in NZ, Australia, South Africa, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are any better that those in the US. The US produces the greatest athletes in the world by most measures. It is because these rugby athletes have been playing the sport since they were 6 or earlier. You see, rugby isn’t a technical sport as you suggest. Rather it is a highly instinctual sport that requires thousands of hours of game time to master. There is no coach calling timeouts and calling plays – you are out there for 80 minutes and you better damn well know what you’re doing; and more importantly – know what your mates next to you will be doing before they even do it.

        30 athletes from Georgia Tech and build a rugby team? I’ll take the 1st XV rugby team of any high school in New Zealand and they’ll beat that team by 50 points. Let me tell you why. Take a city like Dunedin NZ, population ~120k; similar in size to Athens, Georgia. Looking at their weekly rugby draw, they have about 2000 kids under the age 13 playing rugby every Saturday morning and training twice a week. The Under5 division has 14 teams, U6 – 18 teams, U7 – 14 teams, U8 – 20 teams. This is all non-tackle flag rugby. Then at U9 they graduate to full tackle. U9 has 12 teams, U10 – 15 teams, U11 – 8 teams, U12 – 8 teams, U13 – 11 teams.

        Now lets talk about high school rugby. There are upwards of 40 high schools across NZ that would be considered rugby factories. Think of football at Alabama or Michigan and you’ll get the picture. Specifically, let’s look at Christchurch Boys High School; probably the best rugby school in all the world. Student body of 1350, 530 of them are rugby players. 23 teams, 44 coaches, 23 managers. Look for yourself at

        Do you really think that some stud athlete from GT that has never touched a rugby ball is going to compete against the same stud athlete that grew up in Dunedin and started playing competitive rugby at age 5 and then goes on to be be one of the incredible 23 that get to star on the CBHS 1st XV?

        This is why Mike Friday and Dan Lyle know the US is 20-25 years behind the professional rugby world. How many kids U13 play rugby in Athens today? 20? 50? Any? When they get to 2000 lets talk.

        • Aaron

          What’s the timeline? The Eagles are not built around 1st Choice Athletes from this country, Georgia Tech, Clemson, UGA, Alabama, OU, SC football teams are. If I had six months with a decent crop of coaches your idea would be very bad. A first XV from a NZ high school against mature athletes with three to four years of elite strength and conditioning would not only not stand a chance, they’d go home battered.

          It’s opinions like yours that don’t understand the landscape. Recruiting football and basketball players into academies is necessary in the short term. We barely have 30k under the age of 18 playing. Our Eagles are made up of lads who’ve played the game a very long time with some sprinkled in cross over talent. It’s not a bunch of converted football players, perhaps you should open their bios up a bit eh?

          • 1stXV

            I understand the landscape perfectly, that’s why I know that USA rugby is 20-25 years behind. That is the timeline. The reason they have to recruit football and basketball players is because there is literally NO rugby eco-system to produce quality rugby players. Nearly every single US born Eagle played Pop Warner football long before they were part of a competitive rugby team. Blaine Scully never touched a rugby ball till he was 18 at UCLA, even though he attended one of the best rugby high schools (Jesuit) in America. He’s going to compete against Damian McKenzie, who was one of the very best of the 530 rugby players that attended Christchurch Boys High? Nick Civetta never touched a rugby ball till he was 20, and now he’s our best lock. He’s going to compete against Brodie Retallick? Are you kidding me! Chris Baumann and Dino Waldren, two of the best American props never touched a rugby ball until college. Please identify me a single American Men’s Eagle that played rugby before football !!!

            Almost all dreamed of getting that coveted Div 1 football scholarship, and when those dreams were dashed they turned to rugby. Right then and there rugby is getting an inferior athlete, because if he’s good enough he’s off to Alabama or Clemson to play football. Meanwhile his English or Kiwi counterpart – who’s every bit of the US athlete that gets that Div 1 football scholarship – never dreamt of playing football, just rugby. So the very best athletes in those countries that love physical contact go straight to rugby and never look back. Once again, they have been honing their rugby skill since age 5 or 6.

            The USA U20’s got smashed by Canada earlier this summer and failed to even qualify for the World U20 Trophy which is going on right now (best 8 minnow nations outside the top 12 that compete in the U20 Championship). Canada has been smashed every game so far and gets to play the rugby powerhouse of Hong Kong for the right to call themselves #19 in world U20 rugby.

            I watched the U20 game vs. Canada very closely and it was embarrassing. It couldn’t have been more clear that they were a bunch of converted footballers. Winger after winger continually overrunning their lines and botching sure tries. Why? Because they have been running out for football passes their entire lives.

            Instinct is a hard thing to fight, and it is an even a harder thing to teach. Far better for it to be ingrained.

          • Aaron

            A single men’s Eagle that played Rugby before Football…well that’s easy: Aj MacGinty, Ben Cima, James Hilterbrand, Ben Landry, JP Eloff, Brakeley, Ryan, Davies, Magie.

            The issue we have on our side is that we’re not littered with Tier 1 athletes. As much as I love our Eagles, the majority of this side is filled with 2nd and 3rd Choice American Athletes.

            If we actually crossed over 1st Choice American Athletes over a long period we would have a team that is Top 12 easy. Blaine Scully Physically would put a beating on McKenzie. Also, Scully was a water polo player.

            What’s a 1st Choice American Athlete? Full Scholarship in their sport at a DIV 1 FBS school. But again, this is a short term prong. Recruiting the best athletes to play Rugby should always be in the purview of the HP Manager. The issue is always going to be getting them paid.

          • 1stXV

            You just proved my point on two fronts. I asked for American Eagles that played rugby before football and you provided a bunch of overseas born players. MacGinty-Ireland, Cima-Argie, Hilterbrand-Aussie, Ellof/Davies-Saffas. Landry and Brakeley are US born but I guarantee you they played pop warner football before rugby. Landry didn’t get recruited for football so “chose” rugby, or what you call a 2nd choice athlete. A nicer way of saying a football dropout. Which gets us to #17 in the world rankings.

            There’s this myth out there that if only America could recruit and cross over all these 1st choice athletes they’d be top tier. First off, that’s not happening. Secondly, even if it did you’re still way behind the rest of the world. Why? Because the rest of the world has 1st choice athletes too, and they all start playing rugby at age 6. What you’re saying in effect is that America produces such great athletes and they are so good that you can catch them at age 16 and turn them into great rugby players. And you think they can compete with their English or South African or NZ counterpart who are every bit as strong and athletic but have been playing since 6 years old?

            Let’s think about this in the reverse. Do you think you could go over to England, which has a growing NFL presence somewhat similar to rugby in America, and crossover all the very top rugby athletes to football and create a top tier football team? We are talking the very top tier of English rugby athletes, guys on the pathway to national selection and professional academy contracts – the future stars of English rugby. You identify them at 16 and coach them up with the very best football coaches you can find. Then after 4 or 5 years of this top level coaching you bring your team of English football studs to tour the US. How well do you think they’d go against Alabama or Clemson? These would be 100 point blowouts by the 3rd stringers.

            Getting American kids to play rugby at age 6 is the ONLY path to top tier status and being 20 to 25 years behind is a damn long deficit to make up.

          • Aaron

            Landry started playing Rugby when he was 12.

            The American Rugby landscape at this time is very clear. We don’t have a player base to support what you’re talking about. Like I said, you don’t understand and are unwilling to coach players who have the ball skills and not the experience. Yes, it will take time. But we don’t need American kids playing at 6, it’s nice. We need them playing 14. You get 100k 14 year olds starting to play sprinkled with kids who played sooner, because that’s what a Freshman football side looks like. Then we can start talking. But if you’re unwilling to provide the opportunity for the best athletes in America then the sport will not grow and we will drop. This discussion is poor. I’ll take the top 30 athletes from this OU-OSU match going on, 6 months and we’ll play this high school team you’re talking about. But this is obviously simulation…but an 18 yr old 1st XV against young men who’ve been in an advanced strength and conditioning environment daily for 2 and three years will send yours limping. You, my friend are what’s wrong. Rugby is about inclusivity.

          • 1stXV

            This is what you get when kids start playing footy at age 6, absolute pure magic that cannot be taught or coached:


            You will NEVER be able to coach teenage football players to do this kind of stuff.

          • Aaron

            You’re funny man. Any number of Linebackers in the NFL would light him up one on one without pads.

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