For an intimate look from inside the USA Rugby camp, check out Matt McCarthy’s report from Sunrise, FL.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – The USA Rugby Selects flew down to Monte Video, Uruguay early Monday morning for their three-match tour. This tour allows the US, Uruguay, and Argentina to continue to develop and test [mostly] domestic players. Uruguay and Argentina have had their squads involved in the South American Championship, so they should come in with a good level of cohesion.
This tour will provide some good competition but not high-stakes, test-like atmospheres. In many respects, this is like the Americas Rugby Championship, but without Canada. A positive tour will see three competitive games with two wins for the Selects.
Here is the schedule:
v Uruguay on Thursday, April 23 in Montevideo at Estadio Charrua.
v Argentina Jaguars on Tuesday, April 28 in Salta at the Jockey Club de Salta. Kick off at 4:10 EST (if my math is correct).
v Argentina Jaguars on Saturday, May 2 in Salta Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena. Kick off at 6:10 EST (again, math).
No streaming of the matches has been announced yet.
The most interesting thing for Eagles’ fans to see on this tour will be the play of the front row and the half backs.
Coach Mike Tolkin, in word and deed, has made it clear that Mike Petri is going to the World Cup. Niku Kruger and Robbie Shaw will split the scrum half duties on this trip. Shaw has been around the Eagles’ setup in the past while this is a big opportunity for newcomer Kruger. A year ago, Tolkin stated that he was looking toward Madison Hughes and Tom Bliss as two young players that might develop into Petri’s backup and ultimate replacement. Hughes is currently captaining the USA 7s with the NACRA tournament and Olympic qualification looming large. Bliss is with Wasps and not a domestic player. But since he hasn’t been involved recently, it seems unlikely he will be involved in the Pacific Nations or World Cup.
At fly half: AJ MacGinty. Are you ready? Shalom Suniula will be trying to prove himself as the natural selection at 10 but many Eagles’ fans have been waiting for MacGinty to be in the fold.
With Nick Wallace, Olive Kilifi, and Phil Thiel all on tour, there is a chance for expected World Cup players to step up and show improvement against tough scrummagers.
There is a chance for breakout performances from other players in other roles, but it all comes down to front row and halfbacks for the Eagles (and the Selects) for now.
USA Fans’ Wishlist
1) Kruger is a star. Shaw is a familiar entity, and he seems to be clearly below Petri in Tolkin’s estimation. The Eagles need another 9.
2) MacGinty claims the 10 jersey. It is entirely possible that if MacGinty plays well in these matches, he could be the starter at 10 against Samoa on July 18.
3) The front row is stable. That’s it. It will be tough to know how well MacGinty or Suniula can run the show without a stable scrum.
The Eagles over the last 12 months have shown improvement in areas like exit strategy and restarts. This tour will be important in showing that the national side is developing successful systems and patterns and not just relying on the fully professional players to execute.
Assuming that the sides are announced early enough, we will be back with previews for the specific matches and will update with any information about streaming when we get it.
Forwards: John Cullen (Seattle Saracens), Zach Fenoglio (Glendale), Nick Barrett (Metropolis), Chris Baumann (Santa Monica), Olive Kilifi (Seattle Saracens), Ben Landry (Seattle Saracens), Al McFarland (NYAC), Angus MacLellan (Davenport University)John Quill (NYAC), Louis Stanfill (Seattle), Mike Shepherd (Seattle), Kyle Sumsion (BYU), Phil Thiel (Life), Matt Trouville (Seattle),Teli Veamatahau (Metropolis), Nick Wallace (Glendale)
Backs: Colton Cariaga (Life), Moto Filikitonga (Metropolis), Troy Hall (NYAC), Seamus Kelly (SFGG), Niku Kruger (Kutztown), Chad London (Glendale), Ben Leatigaga (OMBAC), Ronnie McLean (Ealing), AJ MacGinty (Life), Zach Pangelinan (OMBAC), Tim Stanfill (Seattle), Robbie Shaw (Esher), Shalom Suniula (Seattle)
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