Head coach John Mitchell has shaken things up a bit as the Eagles open up their Americas Rugby Championship campaign against Uruguay this weekend. Overseas players Nick Civetta, AJ MacGinty, and Blaine Scully are all starting but most surprisingly MacGinty won't be at fly-half. That spot goes to the young Ben Cima with MacGinty at inside center. That's a move that could pay off big dividends as it gets two kickers and playmakers out on the pitch at the same time. The ARC is a perfect place to experiment so Mitchell may as well try it out against a decent opponent to see if it gives him some stability in the centers.
The other interesting moves from what was expected is Tony Purpura starting at prop alongside Chris Baumann and Peter Malcolm getting the start at hooker over James Hilterbrand. Additionally, Tony Lamborn, who we pegged as a sure-fire starter, is on the bench with John Quill and Todd Clever at the flanker positions and Al McFarland as the No. 8. Outside of that the roster shakes out pretty much as expected.
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Rounding out the forwards is Nate Brakeley who will pair with Civetta at lock. The scrumhalf duties fall to Nate Augspurger with Shaun Davies on the bench. Out on the wings will be captain Blaine Scully and Olympic veteran Zack Test. Bryce Campbell will join MacGinty in the centers while Mike Te'o is the fullback.
In talking about MacGinty's move to center Mitchell said the following in a U.S.A. Rugby press release: "If you have a 12 that can be direct with the ball, defend well, and distribute, you become a greater threat with an added variety to your attacking game. As AJ's only here for a week, he's been awesome in the sense of taking on the challenge of playing 12 to help the likes of Ben and Will Magie. His presence alone is good for those young guys."
The match start at 4:00 p.m. et/1:00 p.m. pt on Saturday and can be seen on The Rugby Channel.
Forwards: Tony Purpura, Peter Malcolm, Chris Baumann, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, John Quill, Todd Clever, Al McFarland
Backs: Nate Augspurger, Ben Cima, Zack Test, AJ MacGinty, Bryce Campbell, Blaine Scully (C), Mike Te'o
Bench: James Hilterbrand, Alex Maughan, Dino Waldren, Matt Jensen, Tony Lamborn, Shaun Davies, Will Magie, JP Eloff