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Paul Emerick comes to RWU courtesy of USA Rugby and the Eagles.

GLENDALE, CO – Today we are fortunate enough to turn the inquisitive one, Johnathan Wicklow Barberie loose on Paul Emerick, the veteran star of Team USA.

JWB: The nickname… Cactus? How did you get it? Why did it… stick? Are you a… needler? And no, I don’t have any more cactus jokes.
PE: Cactus... I think it comes from being a prickly old man. Paki [] can be thanked for coining that one.

JWB: You’ve had two tough losses with Team USA vs Team Canada in the past two weeks. As a veteran, what do you say to the boys to keep them up? After all they did play well for the most part and but for a few broken plays could have won both tests.
PE: We are on the precipice of being very good. First test we spotted them 14 points with gifted tries and the second test we couldn’t convert our line breaks and our field position into points. The goal is every time we get into their 22 we need to walk away with points. First step was having and executing a game plan that got us into their 22.

JWB: In ice hockey, players don’t shave during the playoffs in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Are Canada’s Adam Kleeberger & Co confused about which Cup is up for grabs in New Zealand?
PE: I don’t know, eh…

JWB: You’ve had a LONG career for an American rugby player.  Your resume includes your first Eagle cap back in 2003 vs Spain, time with Overmach Parma in Italy, the Newport Gwent Dragons Wales and Ulster Rugby in Belfast. This will be your 3rd World Cup. Since you play both 7s & 15s, that is about 100 years worth of rugby. How the George Gregan do you do it?
PE: I’m a diligent trainer. All the prep work done off the field keeps you healthy and reduces the risk of injury. I’ve had my fair share of knocks and minor injuries, but have been fortunate enough to avoid anything catastrophic. (knock on wood).

JWB: As a dual-citizen of Ireland, I was wondering how fellow Irishmen treated you when you played for Ulster Rugby? Did Sheamus O’Shaunessy and Paddy O’Leary try to rough you up for taking a job from one of the local lads?
PE: The Irish we’re great in welcoming me. Played against a lot of them at my time in Newport. Didn’t get roughed up. Quite a funny thing, I had to brush up on my American football knowledge. They followed the NFL pretty closely. Lots of questions about the size of those boys were being asked.

JWB: How much of The Troubles were still evident while you were there and did it ever carry-over to the rugby pitch?
PE: I think there was only a few car bombs that had gone off while I was in Ulster. I didn’t live near any of the areas, and wasn’t affected apart from a few delays in traffic. Most of the places targeted were English banks and establishments. I don’t remember there being any casualties. I think people are just tired of it all in general. Pretty safe overall, but just like any city – there were places I didn’t venture into after dark.

JWB: How much better looking were the female rugby supporters in Italy than those in Belfast and Wales?
PE: Italian women over all are gorgeous. Almost desensitized me to beautiful women… almost.

JWB: Is it possible that you are the reincarnation of Casanova?
PE: Not sure, I’ll check with my tarot card reader next time I’m home.

JWB: You had long hair up until just before the last Vegas 7s Tournament and were in fact, on the cover of the Vegas 7s Program with that hair. It took a while to realize you were you when you chopped the locks. What was the story behind that?
PE: I lost a bet. Was on track to keep it long. It was a long shot bet I didn’t think I was going to loose.

JWB: Your mate on the USA 7s squad, Captain Matt Hawkins, wants to know if your favorite color is yellow.
PE: It is true, I love bananas!

JWB: You’ve had your share of yellow cards in your career. Do you think the referees are watching you especially close and have you adjusted your game because the previous cards?
PE: I play hard and push the limits either way. I’ve had IRB ref’s come up and say we need more players with the intensity and aggressiveness I display, and others tell me that I need to calm down. I’ll keep playing hard, but as I’ve gotten older you get better at keeping things in check. Emotions can be pretty powerful sometimes, just ask any ex-girlfriend/wife…

JWB: Thanks, Paul… Tell the boys we’re rooting for them against Japan, even if our mate John Kirwan is coaching them. And stay out of Roppongi!
PE: Will do mate. I’ll salute all the locals in Roppongi for you. I am sure you’ll be missed.

*Thanks to USA Rugby, Paki’s Corner, and Vegas 7s for the photos.