Salty: U.S. rugby is on the move

Guinness or Genius? Well, maybe. Rugby veteran and international player? Yes. U.S. Eagles Coach with years of experience? Yes. A healthy appetite for a few pints of Guinness? Most Definitely!

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USRUGBYNZ.com catches up with Salty Thompson,       U.S. All-American High School coach, fresh from a weekend of recruiting and recent return from the Collegiate Rugby Cup in Philadelphia.

USRUGBYNZ.com: From the reactions we got, the Sevens tournament was a huge success all across the board. Its coverage dwarfed the USA Eagles game that week in England. Quite amazing! Why do you think it got so much attention? Will it have an effect on Olympic 7′s?

Salty: The Sevens on NBC was a big deal. NBC as the Olympic network really promoted the Olympic inclusion in 2016. Their production is first class and they’ve really helped get the game some profile. Average people are seeing 7s and talking about it.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Will this increase attention for U.S. Rugby in a public sense and are you seeing growth in rugby as whole across the states?

Salty: I just came back from recruiting the Midwest Age Grade Select tournaments (the best high school players representing Illinois, Indiana, Iowa). The growth in high school rugby is phenomenal across the country. This coming weekend we have selectors at All Star playoffs in Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle (central Washington). We use these events to select for the USA High School All American camps and eventual games.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Not sure if you’ve been following the Eagles at the Churchill Cup this past week, suffering grueling defeats from both England Saxons and Tonga. As an international player and Eagles coach on many levels, any comments on their play? Things they are or aren’t doing?

Salty: The Eagles have struggled in the Churchill Cup. The gap between domestic and international competition is huge at all levels. We are comparable in our world rankings at both, age and grade, u20s and senior Eagles. Countries put a huge emphasis on playing internationals while we are often held back by a number of factors.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Is this a preview for the World Cup? They are scheduled to play Russia this weekend, any predictions? What do they need to work on before this game? This game is getting a lot of hype and is a precursor for their World Cup match-up, what would be your game plan coming into this match?

Salty: You can watch the USA u20s v Russia at www.irb.com. This was a close loss to Russia in Georgia at the World Trophy. I expect a similar close contest between the Eagles and the Russian men. Russia has made significant progress in 7s recently where we still have a better pedigree. They are attracting better athletes, as we are. I coached against them in 2007 in the World Juniors and we won 6-0 with a good team captained by Scott Lavalla and Shawn Pittman, current Eagles (player) Zack Test was also on that team. Should be an interesting game!

USRUGBYNZ.com: Cheers Salty! And the Eagles will meet the Russian Bear in the Bowl final of the Churchill Cup on Saturday, June 18, in England. Check our Twitter feed @usrugbynz for updates of the game and www.universalsports.com as well for paid coverage. Here is a little refresher of last year’s match up:

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