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Column: Random, but Carefully Considered, Post-Portugal Thoughts

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Column: Random, but Carefully Considered, Post-Portugal Thoughts

Photo by Martin Dokoupil - World Rugby via Getty Images

An Opinion Column by Alex Goff—This is actually more of a preview; I will have more to say on the USA's failure to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023 in a bit.

I didn't want to be rash, but I have to put a few thoughts on (virtual) paper.

So, as we enter the Thanksgiving Weekend, and as I give thanks to my readers and supporters, and we give thanks to our wonderful sport and the family of rugby people, we also should acknowledge that this is a pivotal time.

And here are some things to think about:

  • It's not just the Men's 15s National Team. As I outlined here, there are endemic USA Rugby-related problems in the Men's 7s development; as I outlined here the Women's 7s team was fortunate to be a World Cup semifinalist, and has problems, and it is also clear that the Women's 15s team is underperforming (lost of talent, very few tries or wins).
  • At the heart of it all is a failure to think about the future. The USA U18 and U20 teams (men and women) and the All Americans (or U23s) all have received short shrift in terms of funding and planning. That is where the first taste of international rugby comes.
  • If World Rugby forces upon USA Rugby new 15s Head Coaches from their pool of overseas people, we tell them to pound sand. Will it cost World Rugby funding? Let's see. Knuckling under hasn't worked.
  • Why, in the key qualifier games against very similar teams (good kicking teams that compete at set piece and have some dangerous deep three players) did the Eagles play not to lose instead of play to win, and kick the ball away when the USA strength is ball-in-hand?
  • Why, when the Eagles pick power-running, straight-ahead centers, do they kick and not run those guys as strike runners?
  • If this is not a reason for some heads to roll, what is?
  • There is no reason the USA and Canada can't play each other twice a year (minimum) at the senior, U23, U20, and U18 levels, men and women. Every year. Without fail. (PS, Canada, looking at you, as you've bailed on this idea more than once.)
  • All the talk about "legacy money" coming in advance of the 2031 and 2033 World Cups has to be focused on developing international opportunities for younger and developing players.
  • The USA players in the 2028 Olympics are in high school and college right now.
  • The USA players for the 2031 Men's RWC are in high school and middle school right now.
  • The USA players for the 2033 Women's RWC are in middle school or elementary school right now