Rugby America

Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective

Is Johnson Bringing a Friend with Him?

Word is coming out of Australia that new Eagles coach, Scott Johnson, won’t be coming to the United States alone.

Reportedly joining Johnson in the USA is former Wallabies Defensive Coach John Muggleton. One would assume that he would be joining the Eagles setup in the same role. It is always possible that he is merely joining Johnson to help get the Eagles ready for the Churchill Cup, but that makes little sense.

Muggleton, a former Rugby League International, has been considered one of the finest defensive coaches around. It is widely accepted that Muggleton’s defensive pattern was the cornerstone of the Wallabies’ 1999 Rugby World Cup triumph. Throughout the 1999 tournament, Australia conceded only one try, which just happened to be against the USA. Again in the 2003 tournament, the Muggleton-coached Wallabies defence was the best of any country.

Making things more interesting is the fact that USA Rugby announced before the end of 2007 that Peter Baggetta would take over as Defense Specialist Coach for USA Rugby. Baggetta currently is coaching PAC in the USA Rugby Super League.

Baggetta’s responsibilities include developing the defensive approach and systems in partnership with USA Rugby National Team coaches, working with the National Team coaches and assisting with coaching national team players, and delivering specialty coaching sessions in collaboration with the USA Rugby Coach Development Program. Baggetta will work closely with Melville, the new Men’s National Team Head Coach, USA Rugby age-grade coaches and Rick Humm, USA Rugby Coach Development Director.

Baggetta’s role as Defensive Specialist Coach doesn’t specifically imply that he is the Defensive Coach for the Eagles although his responsibilities include assisting in with coaching national team players. His appointment sparked plenty of conversation over the winter as it seemed odd that USA Rugby would appoint a defensive coach without having appointed a Head Coach.

If the reports of Muggleton joining Johnson and the Eagles are true, this should be an interesting scenario to see play out.

Johnson has also denied reports that he is a candidate for the Waratahs job.

“As it stands at the moment I am coaching the US Eagles. That is where I am. I have not applied for the Waratahs job,” Johnson said.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2008 by in Rugby News.

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