NEW YORK, NY: After losing last night’s Rugby World Cup Qualifier to a deserving Team Canada, the losing streak for Team USA is now up to six. With that, we enlisted Rugby Rain Men, Junoir Blaber, Mike Holzman, Nick Attewell and Ryan Day for a well-rounded analysis of the match.
On The Field
Front Row: They did their job in the set pieces and it was good to see 18-year-old Titi Lamositele get his first cap. The subs brought good energy.
Second Row: They were mobile as expected and again did the set piece well, clearing out and carrying need to be better.
Back Row: According to Mike Holzman, “Scott LaValla struggles at 7, which made our inside channels vulnerable.” With Pete Dahl going down, the more natural move would have been Todd Clever at 7, Cam Dolan at 8 and LaValla at 6.
Half Backs: An outright horrible night for NYAC duo Mike Petri and Toby L’Strange. When Robbie Shaw and Folau Niua came on, they seemed to provide the desperately needed spark and good decision making.
Centres: Seamus Kelly going down early forced an early re-adjustment. Roland Suniula came on and played well, though not a natural 13, he seemed to swap from 12/13 with his brother Andrew Suniula during offense and defense.
Back 3: Chris Wyles struggled with the boot slightly on penalty kicks but was his consistent self. Blaine Scully acquitted himself well on the wing and should be there again next week. Takudza “Z” Ngewnya was alright, though he seemed to runaway from support a bit much, trying to avoid contact.
Scrums: The one shining light of the game for the USA. The new laws saw the Eagles look dominant and win penalties.
Line-outs: Not much to complain about here, Lou Stanfill did a great job.
Re-Starts: With Canada scoring within a minute of kick-off, it appears the lessons of the summer haven’t been learned.
Rucks: Solid job when they got there but not there often enough and general support was not good enough.
Mauls: They may be built for speed but why ignore such a solid weapon.
Defense: Not good enough at all. The slide defense gave Canada too much space. When Canada were using misdirections that called for channel discipline, the USA were found wanting.
Gameplan: Team USA’s backline seemed stumped by the Canada press defense; Fly-halfs should stand deeper. In general, they need a tighter, more physical, forward-friendly phase play. Then it can go to the wings, before tight again, those are the USA’s strengths. They don’t have the horses for the up tempo attacking style that is being attempted now.
Captain: We again call for Scott LaValla to be captain and allow Clever to be Clever. Todd is doing too much. Remember in 2002 when England made Martin Johnson captain, yet kept Lawrence Dallagio? They wanted Dallagio free and Johnson brought a different touch to captain. The precedent is there. Just saying.
– Scrum coach Irishman Derek Dowling can take a bow. The USA scrums looked to be something the Canucks didn’t have an answer for.
– Forwards coach Dan Payne needs the lads to play with a bit more mongrel for 80 minutes. A full-game focus plagues the whole team, but forwards win games.
Head Coach: Mike Tolkin is now officially in the hot seat, according to fans. He will need to do some soul-searching about having an attack coach or skills coach on board. Take a pay cut if necessary, but the knock-ons, handling and poor vision inside the opposing half and 22 is frustrating. He has to decide between backing a class player that is out-of-form and bringing in an in-form player he may not trust as much. A change in the gameplan and style of play is also a must, as tries are simply not being scored with the current scheme.
Overall analysis & thoughts: As for the game, Coach Tolkin said it best ““You let them score 25 seconds into the game, you’re starting off on the wrong foot…We didn’t get our attack going, we were playing in the wrong end of the field, we didn’t get our momentum going early enough – so we wound up playing catch-up ball.”
This RWC qualifier series is over. The USA should get ready for the series against Uruguay. Give the guys that made an impact off the bench last night a start next week, build towards Uruguay by trying combos and fringe players at the ARC.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @ckuxmann and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.