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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Canada, Eagles Tied After Leg One Of RWC Qualifying


Next week in San Diego will be a winner take all match for the Eagles and Canada after the teams played to a 28-28 tie in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying series in Hamilton, Ontario. Neither team looked their sharpest on the day with each having bright spots but also letting the other team in with easy mistakes. From the Eagles point of view they would have liked to come away with the win and even led 28-18 with just a little more than ten minutes to go. At the same time they have to be happy they aren't heady into the second leg with a deficit and can use their home crowd to their advantage next week.

A strong wind coming off Lake Ontario and butting up against Niagara Escarpment played a factor into the match early as Canada had a chance to take the lead only to see Shane O'Leary miss his first attempt. Still, Canada came out with a lot of energy and led by captain DTH van der Merwe were able to make a lot of good things happen. van der Merwe especially helped get the team going and was a centerpiece of the match's opening try thanks to some nice handling from the Canadian backs. With the conversion Canada took a 7-0 lead.

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Match Commentary: Eagles vs. Canada

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The Eagles start their World Cup qualifying series today against Canada in Hamilton, Ontario. The Rugby Channel has the action live.

Our preview of the match can be found here.

USA Line-up 

Forwards: Tony Purpura, James Hilterbrand, Paddy Ryan, Ben Landry, Nic Civetta, Todd Clever (C), John Quill, Cam Dolan; Backs: Nate Augspurger, AJ MacGinty, Matai Leuta, Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Mike Te'o, Ben Cima; Bench: Peter Malcolm, Ben Tarr, Dino Waldren, Matt Jensen, David Tameilau, Andrew Durutalo, Shaun Davies, Will Magie

Canada Line-up

Forwards: Djustice Sears-Duru, Ray Barkwill, Jake Ilnicki, Brett Beukeboom (C), Evan Olmstead, Admir Cejanovic, Matt Heaton, Tyler Ardron; Backs: Phil Mack, Shane O'Leary, Taylor Paris, Connor Braid, DTH van der Merwe (C), Andrew Coe, Ciaran Hearn; Bench: Benoit Piffero, Anthony Luca, Matt Tierney, Kyle Baillie, Aaron Carpenter, Gord McRorie, Nick Blevins, Dan Moor

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Preview: Eagles Ready For Canada & World Cup Qualifying

Photo: Cody Schmelter

And so it begins. After two long years of preparation, a coaching change, an upcoming coaching change, international retirements, and everything else thrown in the Eagles are back for another run of World Cup qualifying. Reality is that it would take some sort of complete disaster for the Eagles not to qualify for the World Cup. Even if the U.S. fall to Canada they would be favored against Uruguay. Even then if they lost against Uruguay the U.S. would then be favored in the repechage. That said the Eagles goal has always been to finish as Americas 1 and qualify for the World Cup two years ahead of the tournament. Yes, there is talk about what pool would you rather be in at the World Cup but no matter what pool the U.S. are in it's going to be difficult so why not have the pride qualifying as Americas 1.

At the end of the ARC there would have been few that questioned whether the Eagles are ready to take on Canada. Canadian rugby is at a low not seen in years while the U.S. are coming off their first tournament victory since the Olympics in 1924. The domestic players seemed to have profited from a year playing professional rugby and the overseas players were in good swing. Now things have changed with the team coming off two disappointing results against Ireland and Georgia. Selections have also been thrown in disarray with a number of injuries and also choices by head coach John Mitchell.

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Weekend Television Listings


The international season continues to roll on with another big week. It doesn't get any bigger for U.S. fans that their World Cup qualifying series against Canada. That will be on The Rugby Channel. The British & Irish Lions will also be available on ESPN3/WatchESPN.

If you know of an event or a tournament that is not on our list, please share it with us at thisisamericanrugby@gmail.com.

Friday:
  • Fiji vs. Scotland, 10:30 p.m. et/7:30 p.m. pt (live on The Rugby Channel) 
  • Australia vs. Italy, 1:00 a.m. et (Saturday)/10:00 p.m. pt (live on ESPN3/WatchESPN)
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Analysis: Breaking Down The Eagles Offense

Photo: Cody Schmelter
By Derek Sagehorn

The two biggest red flags from last Saturday’s 21-17 loss to Georgia were scrummaging and handling. The former is a constant irritant for the Eagles, while the latter is an aberration in John Mitchell’s brief tenure. Unfortunately the bad handling opens the door for more pain up front. It was a vicious cycle for the Eagles: gain possession, mishandle it, give up a scrum penalty and lose territory or concede points.

The Eagles poor scrummaging is a theme I’ve written about frequently. Strides were made in the area during the Americas Rugby Championship but the deficit between the United States and Georgia is still immense. The overwhelming destruction practiced by Georgia in this facet of play is sublime. Given the lopsidedness of the affair, there isn’t much for the reader to gain watching looping video of it.

The Eagles themselves have marginally improved in the area with the help of Kiwi scrum coaches. Individuals like Chris Baumann and Paddy Ryan have emerged as hardened practioners. But fractions of eight does not a scrum make. Proud scrummaging nations practice scrummaging as a collective effort, not as individual contests. Teams like Georgia, Argentina and Uruguay (and many other) will continue to exploit this weakness until USA Rugby publicly acknowledges, plans for and remedies the problem. Poor scrum play in this country is a structural problem associated with a paucity of technical knowledge and experience at all levels. Any fix that doesn’t internalize this fact is cosmetic and the results will continue to be as ugly as we saw in Atlanta.

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College All-Americans Finalize Summer Plans

The College All-Americans have finalized their summer plans for both 7s and 15s. Earlier in the year all indications were that the All-Americans were headed back to Australia but with U.S.A. Rugby in a tight financial spot and a big sponsorship needed for the tour changes have been made. Now the team will have a training camp in September followed by a match against Oxford University prior to the Saracens-Newcastle match in Philadelphia. Because that match comes later in the year when school is back in session the 15s camp will focus heavily on players that have already graduated. It will also be used as a selection camp for the USA Selects ahead of the Americas Pacific Challenge.

On the 7s side the College All-Americans are once again returning to the RugbyTown 7s. They are going to face a very tough field in what is shaping up to be a strong tournament. The RugbyTown 7s are at the end of August.

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(UPDATED) Eagles Pick Starters To Play Canada


John Mitchell has named his starting line-up to face Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Saturday. Injuries have shaken things up but Mitchell has also chosen to go with some new combinations. Leading the team out will be Todd Clever who starts at flanker alongside John Quill. Cam Dolan is the No. 8. On the bench are David Tameilau and Andrew Durutalo. After starting two weeks in a row Tony Lamborn is injured and unable to play.

The second row has been given a shake-up with Nate Brakeley set to miss out despite being healthy. His strong partnership with Nic Civetta has been broken up with Ben Landry starting alongside Civetta. In the front row an injury to Chris Baumann leaves Tony Purpura keeping his starting place and Paddy Ryan coming into the team. Ryan has plenty of experience in Europe so that should help the Eagles scrum. James Hilterbrand will start at hooker. The front row reserves are Peter Malcolm, Ben Tarr, and Dino Waldren. There is no word on whether Joe Taufete'e is injured or simply not selected.

Take the jump to read more.