“I’m excited for Matt. Knowing him, he’ll really use the opportunity to drive the team forward to great things.” –Alex Magleby
SAN DIEGO, CA – Okay, so it’s been quite a ride for longtime Team USA 7s captain-turned-coach, Matt Hawkins. Affectionately known as Polar Bear for his light locks and eyebrows and penchant for wrestling Polar Bears in his native South Africa (look it up), Hawkins has seen it all at USA Rugby. And because he’s donned the RWU (Rugby Wrap Up for you props) correspondent cap often, we’ve been there for the ride.
From the uncertainty about his playing career at the end of Coach Al Caravelli’s tenure, to his rebirth as a player and captain under recently departed Alex Magleby, Matt has been through his share of peaks and valleys.
Last night, while at NYC fundraiser with Team USA 15s Coach Mike Tolkin, Eagles Mike Petri, Brian Doyle, Luke Hume and Toby L’Strange, we had the following RWU Text Q&A with the newly named coach:
RWU: First off… AWESOME. Congrats.
RWU: When did you realize you might have a shot at this?
Hawkins: Once Mags stepped down, it became a possibility.
RWU: What was the process?
Hawkins: It was a lengthy process which included applications and first and second interviews that were managed and monitored.
RWU: Who called you with the news?
Hawkins: I got the call from Nigel [Melville, CEO of USA Rugby).
RWU: And what was that like for you?
Hawkins: It was great to hear he and USAR had the confidence in my abilities.
RWU: Now, you played solid rugby last year. Are you a player-coach?
Hawkins: Not sure about that just now.
RWU: Was Mike Friday a candidate?
Hawkins: I’m sure not sure who the other candidates were.
RWU: Now that you’ll be Polarizing the team, Luke Hume, who is watching us text over my shoulder, wants to know if he has a shot at starting.
Hawkins: Anything is possible.
RWU: Thanks, Coach. We’re rooting for you.
Hawkins: Thanks. Much appreciated.
There you have it… 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.