Zack Test’s USA are no longer just competing on the World Sevens Series – they’re out to win
THAT’S IT. Time to wake up. If USA rugby is a slumbering giant then this is the season when the alarm starts ringing. At least that is according to US sevens stalwart Zack Test.
At the final event of last season’s HSBC World Sevens Series, the States left London with a first-ever tournament victory. They then qualified for the Olympics. This US side clicked right at the end of a hard season and they want to start much, much quicker this time.
“Any team has to go through pains to get gains, so we had that last year. We have to start fresh now,” Test says. “Every season has a different feel to it, and it’s especially true for this one with the Olympics at the end as a golden prize. It is going to be a long, daunting season, but we will go from tournament to tournament looking for the right results.
“That means no compromising. In training, no ‘what ifs?’ If you’re not going to get it in training, you’re not going to get it in a game, so it has to be high intensity, performing at the highest level, and hopefully that will transfer through to the series.”
Test has been through the wringer with the sevens team. An eight-year veteran of the circuit, despite being only 26, he remembers the days when it was all about development, about learning the game. Now he is confident and he is hungry. Even last season it was about competing, being one of the top eight sides on the circuit who could hang with the big boys. Now they want to be in the top four, competing to win every single series event. As the ever-experienced Test puts it: “I’m out to lead by example, to have my team go out and take over the world.”
These are exciting times for rugby in the States. According to Test, the game’s popularity has exploded. The World Cup was great for the game, but the continued improvement of the sevens side has not gone unnoticed either. In 2016 there will be a professional North American league, while a US Olympic medal could further push rugby’s cause.
Global stars can be made at the Games, but at the recent World Cup Test had to mark one potential Olympian who is already a big name when he played the Springboks.
“I swapped jerseys with Bryan Habana at the World Cup and had a nice little chat with him after. He was good. He wished me and the team well for the series and the Olympics and told me he’s rooting for us. We might face him again in sevens, so it’d be nice to play him with a little more space on the field!”