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Friday Sets the Tone

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Friday Sets the Tone

New USA 7s Men’t National Team Head Coach Mike Friday has laid down the law, and all players who want to be on the national team - at least the ones in the extended camp this past weekend - know what is expected of them.

Friday, who will share his time between the Eagles and his job as Director of Rugby at London Scottish made it very clear he wants fitter players, more competition among players, and a winning attitude.

Goff Rugby Report asked Friday if he was aware that the USA holds the record for winning the Shield the most times on the World Series circuit (the Shield is the lowest of the trophies, equivalent to 13th out of 16). And, how did he feel about it.

“We’re aware of that record; it’s one we want to lose,” said Friday. “We talked about that in terms of what we want in a team culture. We’re not interested in Shields and Bowls. We want to make sure we’re in the Cup competition come Day Two. Now, if we do fall short of course you want to win the Bowl because that’s eight Series points. But let’s not get excited about winning the Shield or getting one or two World Series points. That’s not where we aspire to be. We no longer want to be participants in this World Series, we want to be competitors.”

The reason Friday can share two jobs is in part because he believes strongly in a High Performance camp to start off the tournament cycle with a 7s team. He also believes strongly in conditioning, and has enormous trust in his assistant coach, Chris Brown, who will be the conditioning taskmaster. Friday made it all very clear on his first day (Friday, July 18), where he and Brown set forth the standards expected. It was an eye-opener for many.

“What we do in preparation physically, tactically, technically, and mentally is crucial. In this next ten-month period there’s going to be a lot of hard work. There’s going to be a lot of people questioning what they’re doing because they’re going to be going to places they don’t want to go to in terms of their conditioning,” said the coach.

So a lot of hard work from a coach who has a very specific plan. Friday spent some time consulting with several from the 7s community in the USA, specifically Al Caravelli, Alex Magleby, and Billy Millard. He is looking for input, but at the same time, he added, ultimately coaching the team is his job. He will make it plain what kind of players he wants and what type of work ethic he wants.

He will invite players to each camp from the development academies and other programs.

“Anybody who comes in can still go on a tour,” warned Friday. “Just because you are in residency, does not guarantee you’re going on a tour. If a guy is putting the work in, hitting the world standards, and putting the consistency in his passing and his catching, he rocks up to a camp and delivers, he will go on tour.”

Like many coaches from overseas, Friday talks about the athletic potential of the USA. unlike many, his first day on the job he got to see many of those players with the extended HP camp. He said he was impressed with players from the OTC and from outside, and is enthusiastic about the work Magleby is doing to develop a pipeline through the academies such as Tiger, Serevi, and Atlantis.

Several coaches were in attendance over the weekend, and Friday said his camp is “an open house.”

“The country is such a vast area you need to scouts, your academy systems in place, but more importantly you need transparency of communication and open communication to ensure you get the best out of it,” said Friday. But that also means academies and scouts listening to the coach on what he wants.

And he won’t be shy.

“He is very emphatic on how he wants to play and how he wants to approach the game,” said Ben Gollings, who played for Friday on the England 7s team and will be coaching the USA team at the Youth Olympics next month. “Togetherness and a strong work ethic are very important to him. There is no hiding place under Mike. If you don’t do the work, you won’t get picked, simple as that.”

No hiding place for Friday, either, now.