Dowling, Smeeth leave Eagles posts

Dowling, Smeeth leave Eagles posts

BOULDER, Colo. -- USA Rugby announced today two changes in the Men’s Eagles coaching staff with scrum coach Derek Dowling and attack coach Tony Smeeth each stepping down from their positions with the Eagles.

Derek Dowling will be stepping down as scrum coach of the Eagles as the team looks to consolidate the forwards coach position. Dowling assumed a green, young pack when he took over and slowly turned them into a more technically proficient scrummaging pack. His navigation with the team through the new scrum laws was excellent as was seen by a very solid set-piece unit in the Canada series. He will continue to work with scrums in the Leinster set-up back in Ireland.

“Derek brought technical expertise as well as a great passion for scrummaging to the Eagles pack,” Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “The forwards enjoyed his great enthusiastic spirit at scrummaging time, and they benefitted hugely from his one-on-one sessions. He took a very inexperienced pack with not a lot of depth and slowly turned them into a good scrummaging unit. It is something he should be proud of, and the boys will use that base to continue to grow. He was proud of the Eagles and especially of his scrum.”

Tony Smeeth will be stepping down as attack coach for the Eagles. Based in Dublin as Director of Rugby for Trinity College, who compete in the AIL Division 1B, Smeeth found it increasingly difficult to find the necessary time to commit to the Eagles while attending to his duties as well as his family.

"Going back to his founding of the USA U-19 program in 1992, Tony has contributed a great deal of time and effort into American rugby,” Tolkin said. “He is a close friend and an excellent coach who has helped the Eagles to become a better program. He was always loyal and hard working with his priority being to make the Eagles the best they could be.”

Dan Payne also stepped down from his assistant coach position on Tolkin’s staff yesterday for an expanded role at Life University.

Add comment

Comments (20)

  • Guest (McBeth's Porter)

    Having been at the match in Charleston I was unaware there was an 'attack coach.'
    Having watched the match in Toronto that assumption was only reinforced.
    There are chemicals but no chemistry on this team.
    It is going to take more than a few resignations to turn this situation around,

  • Guest (TomC)

    After reading the Tolkin interview on Rugby Wrap Up, I can state the following with some confidence.

    1 - Tolkin will remain the Head Coach through the 2015 RWC baring his resignation or the team not qualifying as America 2 or in the playoff spot.

    2 - Tolkin's new assistant coach hires will determine if his legacy.

    Tolkin is facing an almost certain no win situation regarding his legacy. There are two likely ways it can go down, and one extreme longshot.

    If Tolkin brings in assistant coaches that subjugate themselves to him (Bruce McLane, et al), the team will not buy in because they've lost confidence in Tolkin's game plan(s) and ability to instill them as a result of this summer's performance being an abject failure. Once a coach loses a team's confidence and support there is very little that can be done to get it back and the result of an extension of the "Tolkin Way" will be more mediocre to abysmal results. Net-net Tolkin's legacy will be that as the worst Eagles Head Coach in history.

    If Tolkin brings in assistants with a game plan they can coach, the players buy into and they execute with good results, the players will become the charges of those assistant coaches and not Tolkin. Publicly, and in the record book, it will appear that Tolkin had succeeded. However, he will know that Act II of his Eagles coaching term will be that of him becoming and embracing the role of being a paper tiger.

    Longshot is that Tolkin brings in a new crew of "yes men" and gets the players' buy in (again) and having success. This is highly unlikely.

    Tolkin's Act I ended in a desperate and comical way when he decided to get into the team huddle minutes before kickoff of the second RWC Qualifier against Canada. As one commenter on another board aptly described the scene of Tolkin looking like a "red faced boy scout" screaming at his charges, a man old enough to be their father who never wore the jersey giving them inspiration minutes before battle. A vision of folly to set up Act II of this tale that is should end in either humiliation or personal heartbreak.

    I look forward to sitting back and watching the show.

  • Guest (HA!)

    In reply to: Guest (TomC)

    Mikey "Cub Scout" Tolkin is a complete failure as the Eagles Head Coach. Pull your head out Nigel and fire the bum! He is an embarrassment. WTF was he doing in the circle of players just before kick-off? What a joke.

  • Guest (Will)

    Little Mike Tolkin ~ narcissist; blamer; babbler of mindless catch phrases; British wanna-be; never even wore the jersey. Fraud alert.

  • Guest (5Lock4ward)

    We need somebody like Andy Robinson. I've said it before but I'll repeat myself here for the sake of continuity; it's a fine idea to have an American coach but there really aren't any who've coached at a high enough level to get the Eagles competitive against top tier test match opposition. Our pros can only do so much to help the other guys off the pitch but even they are used to higher level of coaching w/ their club teams. I think Melville is the real problem. He's allowed the college competition to fall out from under USA Rugby along with the Super League. He should be replaced as it now appears he's just sitting around collecting an inflated check. Why he hasn't been beating down European club team doors to get former Crusader and NZ age grade representative James Paterson a pro-contract is impossible to imagine for me. How he hasn't been able to resolve Samu Manoa's visa issues is also unacceptable. Also, why is nobody talking about Hayden Smith? He was cut by the Jets and cleared waivers. Shouldn't somebody from USA rugby be in his ear about a return. Imagine a 2nd row pairing of he and Manoa with Lavalla, Clever and Stanfill making up the back row.

  • Guest (Joe)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    Completely agree, Nigel Melville needs to go!! He is the one that has hand picked every coach and USA Rugby 15's is embarrassing to watch. Fire Nigel Melville!!

  • Guest (NZjuggernaut)

    And the blaming game continues. A few years ago, people complained that USA Rugby was paying too much for a foreign coach, and should hire an American. Now an American coach is hired, and you get all pissed off because you all thought an American is supposed this program around. Who were we kidding... The truth of the matter is = does the US Eagles have a lot of talent and depth, the answer is yes. Are there a lot of great rugby coaches in the US at the moment, and the answer is yes again. Are of any of the current coaches here in the USA qualified enough to be coaching International level, = the answer is NO. A lot of you jokers said that Foreigners were too expensive, so lets get someone who coaches a NY team to coach at International level against professional players and coaches, and pay him less so we can save money. Look to Canada, they got Kieran Crowley from New Zealand to coach them, and look at the difference Canada has gone from a years ago till now. You have to pay for quality, and when you pay for quality, you have to demand the best, and that's what Canadian Rugby is doing at the moment. He sets all coaching standards and technical skills, and encourages all clubs at all levels to try and coach his technical skills and approach, at all levels so that when guys get the call up, for any rep team, they are primed and ready. No such thing in the USA. Coaches read manuals and try and coach something that they have never even done or know a lot about. You get coaches who have only played division 3 rugby, and now are coaching division 2 or maybe division 1 mens or womens their bad habits of how they were coached back in the day, and still think its applicable to the game we now play. You still see High Level division 1 and 2 coaches, coaching wrong things they were given 10 years ago to current players, like binds, cadence, lifts, defence and offense, and these were skills that were told should never apply to the game anymore, and yet its passed on, and the list goes on.. Coaches also do things they think they know a lot about, when they should be focusing more on basic technical skills and how to get players to think on their own, and how to read the game off the cuff. Look to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain for some examples of how it is to be done. We do have a lot of talent here in the USA, but they aren't properly taught how to play the game, because coaches in most places are doing it the right way. You lay the right basics down with some infusion of technical skills, and than you can build on the bigger things later when the time is right.

    The Proof in the pudding is that most coaches may know how to coach skills and strategies but if you ask them the whys, the draw a blank. Its because they don't really have the knowledge to pass on the whys to their players such as the situational decision making taught in high school and colleges in all the top rugby playing nation, and here in the USA, we are not even taught it right in top level club rugby. We all need to take a step back, re-evaluate whats going on, tweek changes and than make the necessary changes to better US Rugby.... and the RANT continues..

    SOLUTION to all this madness. Get a Foreign Coach, someone who has coached at Super 15s, European Cup and Higher. Someone who knows what its like to coach and play against professional teams, week and week out. Someone that coaches Super League here in the USA is not the standard for a International Coaching position. The standards are no way even close together.

    Last but not the least, Mike is a great guy and am sure his coaching staff are as well, but if they do not produce the goods, than their roles as leaders should be questioned, and its not working, which is showing now, they should be replaced, and bring in someone else that can produce the results. You have to back what you do you as coach, and if you are not winning, than you should be replaced. Plain and simple. A lot of guys whined about Eddie O'Sullivan, but he actually has a better coaching record than Mike. Just look back to the Best game USA ever played against Ireland in New Zealand.. I wonder who was coaching the eagles than. I rest my case.

  • Guest (Auzziemuff)

    In reply to: Guest (NZjuggernaut)

    Well said mate.. The game is simple and yet most people over think the basic things we need to learn first, and I see it at club level too, even in Super League. Some teams are doing it right and some aren't. Fellars want to learn how to run and do fancy moves when they have no idea how to pass the ball first. Same as the forwards, people chip in their ideas on how they were taught to play the game in rucks, mauls and lineouts, instead of looking to a one proper way to do it, like proper body position, the basic technical stuff. Look to those that are winning and doing well, and mirror their approach... Its bloody simple as hell, but the USA doesn't seem to be getting it. A lot of good talent here in the USA, and its a shame, these ruggers aren't given the proper basic skills from the get go. Just imagine the huge strides rugby would take in the USA if we all did it right at the lowest level, or when these talented youngsters are first exposed to the game.

  • Guest (Joe)

    In reply to: Guest (NZjuggernaut)

    I disagree with you saying there isn't an American coach that is qualified. The current Head Coach at UCSB, Tim Lewis is an American coach that has coached at every level here in the USA and spent 7 seasons in NZ and won 3 championships while coaching current Super 15 players and All Black players.

  • Guest (Fvwer0z4)

    This topic is something that I have been looking into for a while now and your insight is exceptional. Thanks for sharing this information.
    Denver moving quotes