NEW YORK, NY: Captain of the USA Mens 7s National Team, RWU corespondent and all-around good guy, Matthew “Polar Bear” Hawkins, is the new USA Mens Rugby 7s Head Coach. This hopefully ends what has been a wild 18 months for the USA Rugby’s 7s program. Here is the rundown of events:
Caravelli out/Magleby in: After a poor showing in the 2012 Las Vegas 7s, Coach Al Caravelli decides he needs to focus on family more and steps down. Dartmouth Head Coach Alex Magleby is announced as the interim coach. This is a huge shake-up in the program and specifically in Hawkin’s world. Listen to his thoughts on the change and his future.
Magleby in fulltime: After finishing the remainder of the 2011/2012 HSBC 7s World Series, Magelby is named the new fulltime head coach of USA Mens 7s. Magelby has a horrendous first half of the 2012/2013 series. However at the halfway point of this season, the US catch fire. They make 3 straight plate finals, winning two of them consecutively. Things were clicking, players were named on all- tournament teams, with one named player of the tournament. There was a new found hope, excitement and expectations for USA 7s.
Magleby resigns: And as suddenly as he appeared, Magelby resigns from the post due to family and personal issues. RWU Corespondent Matt McCarthy grilled Magleby on his sudden departure.
Even Rugby Magazine chief Alex Goff threw out loads of names with Hawkins name not mentioned. Hawkins at this time had worked his way back into the USA 7s side was captain, helped lead the great 2nd half of the 2013 season and was one of the selected players contracted to USA Rugby 7s.
Matthew “Polar Bear” Hawkins appointed: A man that had been part of USA Rugby 7s program for 7 years since 2006, back when it was per-diem pay. Sacrificed so much as a dad (of 2 boys) and husband, an embodiment of the American Dream was now the new head coach.
Nigel Melville, USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer and President of Rugby Operations said in the announcement:
“We wanted experience on the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series Circuit, and Matt obviously has several years’ experience on the circuit and has been part of the squad for a long time. The Series is very unique in many ways; it’s incredibly challenging. Matt understands the demands of the circuit and the demands of the year.”
Hawkins shared his thoughts at the press conference, on his approach:
“My approach to the Sevens program ever since I first joined way back when in 2006 was: I want to do anything I can in my capacity to help the program be better and be more successful.Whatever that means, I’m happy to seek out that role and perform that role. This is that next role for me and I’m extremely excited about the opportunity and look forward to it.”
On his coaching experience:
“I’ve had a lot of coaching roles in the past five or six years, but within that I’ve had a pretty decent leadership role with the Eagles over the past three or four years.”
On taking over for Magleby:
“Mags is a really analytical guy and he understands that part of the game well. I think he created a good team culture amongst the guys, so I want to expand on that. I think Mags is a great guy, we’ve spent a lot of time together and learned a lot together. It was a great experience working with him and he’s one of the better coaches I’ve had in the past.”
Hawkins was congratulated by rugby fans and coaches all over the globe. Paul Treu, Head Coach of South Africa 7s team tweeted that “Hawkins has a great understanding of the game so if you combine that with respect of the players, I like his chances of success.” This can only bode well for USA Rugby. A couple of the finer positives for USA Rugby are
1) Hawkins lives in San Diego so he won’t be moving cross country like Magleby.
2) Intimately familiar with the USA program and the 7s landscape in the US and is connected with all the important domestic players, coaches and clubs.
3) Respected by players as he was just their captain.
4) Being coach means 1 more contract spot has been freed up.
It is the opinion of this writer that USA Rugby fans have been given hope and should have faith in the Polar Bear to do the job.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow the new 7s coach on Twitter at @Polarbearkzn and the rest of the staff @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @ckuxmann and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.