USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne said he is using the current situation (that being that John Mitchell has taken a new job) to re-think the national team structure.
"No one person can come in and understand the breadth of our geography and all the different aspects of our community and produce a silver bullet that solves it all," said Payne, who played for the Eagles in 2007 and was also an assistant coach for the national team before, eventually, becoming CEO. "We need to develop a program and find people who understand that we are a program. We have four national teams that we serve - the Eagles Program is Men's 15s, Women's 15s, Men's 7s, and Women's 7s, not just Men's 15s. It's not as much about what's next for the Eagles head coach, but what's next for the Eagles program. Too often we've placed emphasis on one person at the top."
So the plan is something that isn't quite a Head of High Performance, but perhaps something like that. USA Rugby's High Performance Manager Alex Magleby is a player identification person. What Payne is looking for is something USA Rugby has needed for about 12 years now, which is someone who understands how national teams are organized and put together, and who coordinates a number of aspects of all of the teams (including the budgets, which most of the senior Eagles teams exceeded last year).
Payne will also most likely be looking for a Men's Eagles coach who will be in the country more than John Mitchell was, and who will help develop coaches and work on outreach efforts - something that has often been talked about but never really accomplished.
"USA Rugby serves our membership, our future, and out high performance teams," said Payne. "And saying 'our high performance teams' doesn't mean just our men's 15s team. We have to balance all of the teams. We need a strong leader at the very top of our men's 15s program, but I want to reshape the way people think about it."
While looking forward, Payne was quick to heap praise on outgoing Head Coach John Mitchell. The USA team did indeed win the Americas Rugby Championship in the winter and then, for the first time, earned the Americas 1 seed for the Rugby World Cup. Not having to play another qualifier series will be a boost to USA Rugby.
"I think it's a great thing - that result with Canada, 11 of those 15 starters came through the USA program. And that was with Blaine Scully on the sideline. We have to be appreciative of all of the effort our youth and high school and college coaches are putting in this," said Payne. "And we cannot thank Coach Mitchell and his staff enough for getting us where we are. Let's not lose sight of what this group achieved."