Rio 2016Olympic & Paralympic Games


1 Aug 2016

Test and Goulding combining as USA Rugby 7s go for gold

After eight years in the team, Zack Test currently holds the most tries and appearances for the USA Men’s Eagles 7’s, so it is no surprise that he will be one to watch at the Rio Olympics.

Test studied Sports Technology at Loughborough University from 2009-2010, after receiving a scholarship from Canterbury, the USA’s national sponsor at the time.

“Going to Loughborough helped me in many ways. I learned and discussed rugby with coaches and players who have played the game since they were little nuggets. The way they saw the game, analyzed it and played it was completely different from the states. It helped me become more of a professional because it was such a professional environment.”

The popularity of Rugby is growing rapidly in the USA, and Test believes that it will only increase now that Rugby 7’s will feature in an Olympic Games for the first time.

“America is finally seeing the beauty and passion of rugby. The culture and community of rugby is best part and now young athletes in America are seeing that along with the fact it's the greatest sport in the world. The Olympics will only help propel the momentum forward because Americans love Olympians and cheering for Team USA.”

Test describes making it to the Olympics as one of his greatest achievements during his Rugby career and he will be hoping that all the hard work in training will pay off in Rio.

“The training has been a brutal, especially over the last two months. We’ve been in at 7am and leaving around 5pm on most days, with two or more field trainings plus a gym workout.”

The Men’s Eagles are currently ranked sixth in the overall World 7’s rankings, so Test is confident that they can take home a medal. When asked about his Rio aspirations, there was no hesitation and the message was loud and clear:

“We’re going there to win Gold. Period.”

Loughborough University alumnus Paul Goulding is also busy preparing for the Rio Olympics as the Performance Analyst for the USA Men’s Eagles 7’s team.

Goulding graduated from Loughborough University in 2009 with a degree in Sports Science, and then continued at Loughborough, starting his Masters the following year.

During his first few years at Loughborough, Goulding wasn’t sure what career path to follow, apart from having a clear desire to work in sport. This was until a particular lecture towards the end of his degree provoked an interest in performance analysis.

Speaking on his way back to America to prepare for Rio, Goulding commented:

“Towards the end of my degree at Loughborough I got really interested in the analysis of performance as we had a lecture in one of my modules. My soon to be boss was doing a talk about analysis and this flicked the switch for me. I spoke to him after and he let me do an internship at London Wasps the following season from 2009-2010.”

This meant a very busy year for Goulding, juggling a Masters degree with work at London Wasps.

“I’d do three days at Loughborough and three days down in London. I’d also travel down for games so it was quite a year! That got my foothold in the door and I got my training through that. Analysis was still quite a small section in sport, so five/six years ago there wasn’t that many full time jobs available, typically just one in every Premiership team.”

After finishing his internship with London Wasps, Goulding planned to go travelling, when a chance conversation with a then Loughborough student and USA Rugby player, the aforementioned Zack Test, flagged up a potential opportunity out in the States.

“I was just about to go when I got a heads up that there was a job going in the States. I applied for it as I could combine the travelling with the job so I went over and did an interview. Initially it was part time so I’d go out and do the training camps and then fly back to England. It slowly grew into a full-time job as I took on more work with the 15-a-side team and I now oversee the analysis across the whole union.”

Goulding’s day-to-day job consists of individual analysis and performance tracking. As the season has finished, he will also spend time reviewing the season, looking back at the data, along with statistics and GPS information. 

“We’ll look at combinations that we have and different team strategies that we’ve tried to see whether they’ve worked. We’ll also look at the opposition, so for example the teams we will be facing in the Olympics. We can do a lot of analysis on them, looking at their data and their trends and patterns, whether we can gain advantage and strategies looking at their weaknesses and potential opportunities in their team. It’s pretty multi-faceted!”

Like Test, Goulding believes that USA have a great chance of medalling at Rio, after coming third in the recent London 7’s and finishing sixth overall in the World Series.

“I’m quietly confident in the guys that we can medal, and the boys are looking as high as possible towards the gold. The one thing about 7s is that if a team is performing well and turns up on a weekend they can snatch the Gold. Personally it’ll be a nice combination of five years’ work getting the guys to this point to see them medal and get the credit that they deserve.”

Speaking of how Loughborough helped him forge a career in performance analysis, Goulding added:

“It was undoubtedly a springboard to the things that have happened. It put me in a great position and it opened doors that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It gave me a great outlook on the possibilities I had; I can’t speak highly enough of it. It’s a great environment to learn and to excel.”

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Pete Matthews
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University