As the USA 7s team licks its wounds after a rough opening three rounds, three rounds where the leading players came under some scrutiny from Head Coach Matt Hawkins, one of those players contemplating the criticism.
It's easy to forget that at the beginning of last season, Brett Thompson was not in the USA mix. He started playing a little bit, and then some more, and only late in the season did he come on as a starter. The lanky University of Arizona product, where he played football and rugby, betrays a maturity beyond his years when he says the criticism of the team now is to be expected.
"You have to look at the record," Thompson told RUGBYMag.com. "The team is judged based on its win-loss record, and when we're not winning games, it's fair to point that out."
Thompson, the son of USA High School All American Head Coach Salty Thompson, can be forgiven for looking at things with a coach's eye. What he sees hasn't made him happy.
"It was a frustrating two weeks," Thompson said. "The frustrating thing was, we knew what we should have done and we still didn't do it. We watched film to see what went wrong, and we wanted to get better each game, but as Matt Hawkins said, in Dubai our first seven minutes of rugby was our best seven minutes of rugby. We dropped off after that and Hawkins was upset about that."
He was upset, and told the group of leading players, of which Thompson is one, to pick up the slack. Even though he's been with the team for a short time, Thompson took his new role, and the new criticism, seriously.
"It's our responsibility as players to get it done," he said. "Personally, I like when people have expectations of me. I only really played the last two tournaments last season and now I guess I'm a veteran. But I am comfortable with it. It forces me to take my role more seriously. When things aren't going right, what can I do differently to make myself a better player?"
When the team reconvenes at the Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista, there may be some changes in who is in residency, and certainly there will be pressure to improve.
"We've been called out," said Thompson. "Who's going to stand up? I know the players who didn't make the last tour will be ready to push for a spot, and if you think that because you made the past tour you'll make the next, you're making a mistake. We'll find out who responds."