Tolkin optimistic about Eagles’ future after Atlanta camp

BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin understands the importance of his team’s 2013 schedule and has worked accordingly to identify the next group of Eagles. From April 27-30 at Life University in Atlanta, Ga., Tolkin and his staff were able to watch 32 of the best American rugby players in a high performance camp environment.

More than one-third of the players in attendance at the camp had never participated in a National Team High Performance Camp, highlighting the growing quality of rugby players across the country. With meticulous instruction, Tolkin and his coaching staff worked on defensive tactics, attacking setups, individual skills on both sides of the ball and unit skills. Each coach benefitted from the camp by being able to work in his particular discipline and completely evaluate players’ talent.

“The player pool was a mix of experienced players and newcomers to the program,” Tolkin said. “The talent level and athleticism of the entire group was of a high standard, and we were pleased that players came in with a good overall understanding of basic concepts, patterns and game plans, and the overall skillset was encouraging.”

The Eagles have a busy spring and summer schedule across all fronts with the Pacific Nations Cup, international tests and World Cup Qualifiers. With some players needing rest after a long club schedule, Tolkin will be able to call upon the newer players from camp to fill the void.

“The goal of the domestic camp was to identify new talent, improve our players’ skills within a high performance setup, and continue to implement and develop the skills and tactics of the Eagles,” Tolkin said. “Part of the coaching staff’s desired goals was to have players understand our expectations of being an Eagle.”

Canada is first up for the Eagles on May 25 in the Pacific Nations Cup in Edmonton. Tolkin will hold another camp in Denver on May 17 to prepare for that match and then head back to Denver afterwards to prepare for the test against Ireland at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium on June 8 (buy tickets here).

Five matches in 30 days in three different countries will test the Eagles more than they have been tested in the past, and camps like the one in Atlanta will go a long way to identifying players who will represent the Eagles at the top level.