Friday, March 25, 2016

Eagles Still Looking For Third Summer Test

Yesterday World Rugby announced their international fixture list for the summer test window. So far the U.S. only have two entries--against Italy in San Jose and against Russia in Sacramento--on the list. That's nothing new with word of those matches coming out weeks ago. However, the Eagles are still looking to schedule a third match and as the schedule shows finding an opponent is going to be tough.

The Eagles currently have June 11th open. Nearly all of the big names are already tied up and have been for years. Wales is touring New Zealand, Ireland is going to South Africa, Italy will be in Argentina, and England will take on Australia. There are two notable exceptions among that group: Scotland and France. The Scots are headed to a two match tour of Japan and it would make logical sense for them to play in the States but they reportedly are looking for a more lucrative fixture. Only time will tell if the U.S. and Scotland will be able to work something out but right now it doesn't look good.

Take the jump to read more.

France will be touring Argentina and they could also stop over and their way to South America. However, they may also be on the lookout for a more money making and less taxing venture. It would make sense that they play Scotland but they would also be doing so without the players that make the semi-finals of the Top 14. Maybe with a weakened side they think it's a good time to head to America?

Among Tier II nations Samoa is going to host Georgia, Japan will be playing Canada in BC Place, and Fiji will play Tonga. Additionally every team in the top 22 rankings in the world is involved that weekend. Namibia, Uruguay, Romania, and Spain are all playing in the Nations Cup along with Emerging Italy and an Argentina XV.

So what options do the Eagles have? The best scenario sees them facing either Scotland or France but as June approaches it seems less likely that it might happen and more likely both Scotland and France find other closer-to-home options. Another option is the Barbarians.  A home match against the Baa Baas would be big for the Eagles but the Barbarians haven't really made plans for the summer but have for the fall.

Other options include the World XV, the French Barbarians, and the England Saxons. However, if Scotland and France stay home then they are going to likely draw on one of these teams. Also, the Saxons haven't played much lately and the French Barbarians rarely go on tour. A World XV would be a better option but isn't really a name opponent that is going to put butts in the seats.

If the Eagles are set on playing a country their next options are Belgium, Germany, or Hong Kong. None of those are real options. One team that wouldn't have been an option until recently was Brazil. Maybe the Eagles want revenge with their full strength team!

None of those teams should be considered serious options. Those are more ARC level opponents that you use to blood new players. So if a country is out what about a club team? The U.S. has played club teams in the past (Harlequins last year) but it can't be a European club. With their season over and many of their top players playing international rugby a team from England would have a lot of name recognition. A French club is ruled out as the top teams will still be playing on the 11th.

The better option and one that would be interesting to see on multiple levels is a match-up with a Super Rugby outfit. Yes, they will be missing some of their top players to international duty but there is no question that one of the New Zealand outfits has the depth to give the Eagles a challenge if not be favored in a match. Judging by the reaction of fans to Super Rugby being available on ESPN3 this year there is definitely a market for it here. A team may not have the name recognition of a France or Scotland but if you play the match in a place like San Diego, Denver, or California there is going to be a certain number of people familiar with the competition and team.

At this point who knows what is going to happen. However, the one thing that is certain is that the Eagles can't be stuck with only two summer matches. After touting the ARC as deliver more much-needed matches (and it was good for that) the Eagles can't have a summer schedule of only two matches, it would be a step backward.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. My preference would be Georgia as I think the US trajectory will mirror that of the Lelos in the next few seasons. (And I think the 6 Nations arrogance towards Georgia and Romania by not allowing the likes of Scotland and Italy to be subject to promotion-relegation has been appalling...)
    That said, the idea of a West Coast-sited game against a Kiwi Super Rugby franchise would be excellent and I like your reasoning...