BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby Men’s National Team head coach, Mike Tolkin, has confirmed his coaching staff. Only two changes have been made from the staff that Tolkin’s predecessor Eddie O’Sullivan had assembled during his tenure with the Eagles from 2009-2011.
Tolkin’s coaches and staff will be charged with preparing the USA for their three-match test series in June. The Eagles will face Canada, Georgia, and Italy all of whom are known for their physicality and gritty forward play.
Dave Hodges, former USA captain and long-time professional with Welsh side the Llaneli Scarlets, will be the USA forwards coach. Hodges has three Rugby World Cups under his belt, two as a player and one as a coach and will be charged with prepping the Eagle forwards for their 2012 test match schedule and also for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Tony Smeeth, Director of Rugby at Dublin University in Ireland will take over the USA backline. Smeeth lived in the USA for over a decade before moving to Ireland and has coached the USA Under-19s and the Eagles. In Ireland he has led Blackrock College RFC, Leinster U18s, and Willow Park School.
Life University Director of Rugby, Dan Payne, will be a specialist coach on Tolkin’s staff focusing on contact and continuity. Payne has helped build Life University’s undergraduate rugby team into a national powerhouse in both fifteens and sevens and with a wrestling background, Payne understands well the importance of strength and positioning in contact.
Chris O’Brien, a former Eagle and NFL kicker was also head coach of Stanford Rugby for a number of years and will resume his role as kicking coach for the Eagles.
Dave Williams, current strength and conditioning coach for the Men’s and Women’s Eagle Sevens teams, will continue with the Men’s National Team. Williams has been with national teams in various capacities since his retirement from international rugby in 2007.
The team video analyst will be Paul Goulding who has held that role with the USA Men’s Eagle Sevens team since 2010 will also join Tolkin’s staff. Goulding played at Lougborough University and has worked as a video analyst with London Wasps prior to his stint with the USA.
Tristan Lewis will remain as the team manager, a role he held through the duration of O’Sullivan’s time with the Eagles including the 2011 Rugby World Cup.