Before we begin, we wanted to send our deepest condolences to USA Rugby icon Dave Sitton’s family. We are saddened by his death. He was a friend and great proponent of the game here in the USA when people still thought it was “… the game with the sticks.” We would like to remember Coach Sitton for his great sense of humor, which he showed in his interview with our JWB in Vegas earlier this year. That interview is at the bottom of the page.
NEW YORK, NY: The first part of the Eagles Summer is over, It has been over for a bit, they are working towards getting ready for the second phase. The second phase are the two RWCQs against Canada. Both teams are essentially assured of entry into the 2015 RWC and are fighting it out for bragging rights and pool placement.
The US is on a 5 game losing streak. This streak required analysis so I fired out an email to my fellow rugby rainmen. They are Mike Holzman, Nick Attewell and few more from around the globe, to see what they had to say.
On The Field
Front Row: On an individual level, most of the players were anonymous. Chris Biller was alright but there were no outstanding performers. When players did raise their hands it was for scrum penalties. According to a New Zealand rainman, “they cost you at least 20 points.”
Second Row: The Engine room looked short a few loads of coal come scrum time. Otherwise the mobility was there to see but as Holzman said “as a short-term fix for the scrum, we should look for heavier locks.”
Back Row: The perennial strong point of the eagles, the backrow did as they always do and continued to shine. The main thing it appeared to lack was support play and linking with the backline.
Half Backs: The halfbacks didn’t get great ball but when they did, it wasn’t used well. Mike Petri’s option taking was poor as he went wide when tight was needed and vice versa. Toby L’Strange struggled to create anything at 10. It might have been the defensive pressure or the gameplan, either way we went 3 games tryless so some it rests on him.
Centres: The loss of Paul Emerick is huge! He may not be slippery but he is a definite line-breaker. The summer pairings lacked creativity and its believed that Mike Tolkin is wrong about Seamus Kelly. Kelly is not the answer at 13, maybe James Patterson to get a run. Send Kelly to the ARC and lets see how he does.
Back 3:These were the real standouts of the summer. Chris Wyles is as important to the backs as Todd Clever is to the forwards. Hume looked good before injury and moving Patterson to 13 would allow Blaine Scully to be shoehorned into wing or to FB if Wyles is moved to 13.. One player whose time is done should be Takudza “Z” Ngewnya. It is not for any other reason than the game has evolved at National team level and we need a more rounded wing. In France he can get away with it as he is surrounded by a better class of players, not on the USA team.
Scrums: I will leave with rainman Alex Rainychek’s words “I’m just baffled as to why the Eagles scrum is so poor. On paper each member of our pack is a solid player, they are not weaker physically than their opponents, yet in every scrum they just fall apart or slide backwards or collapse. Being driven back by Japan’s scrum was beyond embarrasment. Is it all because of poor technique? Don’t we have a dedicated scrum coach on staff?”
Line-outs: Our most successful set pieces. We used our locks well and great motion. Stanfill did a fair few of the calls and did a great job.
Re-Starts: It is such a basic part of the game that with so much else to work on this gets so little time. However it deserves more time because it is difficult to win when you botch kickoffs receiving or kicking.
Rucks: Not good enough. Too many times players stood off, setting up for the next phase instead of securing ball. We had ref that encouraged slowing down of the ball and did not adjust to the need to go all out at the breakdown. On defense I felt we have to find a better median between over committing and not getting involved at all.
Mauls: Rarely used but when used worked well. Problem is with a pack built for mobility, this very essential weapon is not used enough.
Gameplan: Unidentifiable is the best way to describe it. The team seemed unable to get go forward ball so the attack became more conservative which didn’t lend itself to being open. A much clearer idea of style is needed. Maybe there was no plan B based on the team put together.
That is it for part 1, be on the lookout for part 2 later this week. In the meantime 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.
Here’s to Coach Sitton, who was taken way too early at just 58:
We will miss you, mate.