NEW YORK, NY: With the Big event in Chicago over, we had a round of the staff to discuss this monumental occasion in USA Rugby history, USA Rugby Eagles versus The New Zealand All Blacks (#USAvAllBlacks). We got a bit of opinion from three different viewpoints of the RWU Staff. Our American staff members, our Kiwi Staff members and the neutral viewpoint of our French Staff members. With that said, lets hear what they had to say.
USA Staff Viewpoint
Karen “MumScrum” Ritter: The exciting moments for me were at the beginning – to see the teams running from the tunnel onto the field was amazing. We’re so accustomed in the U.S. to seeing our teams run to/from locker rooms at opposite ends of the field/court; it’s very cool to see the guys running out together. Two teams, one tunnel, one shared love of the sport.
The national anthems were great. The Star Spangled Banner and really revved everyone up. The fireworks were a superb added touch. During the New Zealand national anthem, and I could hear many a Kiwi in the stadium singing along. The Haka was next, and it was like I was in a dream. It happened so fast! The crowd was quiet overall, with the occasional interruption, and truly respected the New Zealand tradition. Whether you’re an All Blacks or Eagles fan, you have to appreciate the Haka. I do – I love it! [An aside: A HUGE thank you to my neighbor for rushing over to set my DVR to tape the match – an important detail that I nearly forgot! This enabled me to see, you guessed it, the Haka again!]
Another fine moment was the halftime tribute to Jamie Burke. She received a Crystal Eagle Award for earning 50 caps. Amazing!!
Saturday’s match did not show us that the New Zealand All Blacks are a great team; we already knew that. It didn’t show us that our U.S. guys have heart and determination; we already knew that. It DID show us what could be. Here.
New Zealand Staff Viewpoint
Jamie Wall: I will put my thoughts into 4 concise points.
- As far as what this performance will mean for the immediate future of the All Blacks, not a heck of a lot. The All Blacks played exactly the way they were expected to and romped home to an easy victory, utilizing the one thing they are better at than anyone else: offloading. The Eagles tackled hard, for sure, but an awful lot of them counted for nothing as the ball had already left the player’s hands (more than a few times ending up over the try line).
- Sonny Bill Williams can slot back in and look like he never left. Although he got some help from some absolutely horrible defence from Adam Siddall and Samu Manoa, he still managed to dot down twice and make some good runs.
- Soldier Field was awesome. The crowd and atmosphere looked incredible and if that’s the sort of passion that US rugby fans can bring to a test match then you deserve to have more top test sides visit. The real question is: will you have a team that is worthy to play them?
- American rugby commentary is hilarious. Well, to us it is. Obviously explaining the rules was going to be important to US viewers, but that doesn’t explain why they felt they needed to make up facts like how every New Zealand baby has a rugby ball placed in their cot and comparing Augustine Pulu to Clyde Drexler.
Johnathon Wicklow Barberie: This Kiwi was proud to be there and it was a great event. The result was never in doubt when you have full time professionals that have so much time together against a rag tag mix of pros and semi-pros with not enough time together. The USA boys deserve some credit though. Those boys took it on the chin for their nation and sport with the hope that their efforts would help push rugby forward in America and spark the fuse that will create a generation of world class players as the sleeping giant finally wakes. That is patriotism.
Neutral (French) Staff Viewpoint
James Harrington: I was born and raised in a rugby nation. I live in a rugby nation. The assumption here is that if you tune in to a rugby match, you know enough about the game to have at least a rough idea of what’s going on. Otherwise, watch soccer. So, it was fascinating to listen to NBC’s commentary of the match. It was pretty good, too, especially as a Rugby 101 for newcomers. Loved the obsession with player stats, too (“Sonny Bill Williams… 6’3″, 250lbs,” that sort of thing), which rarely happens over here.
A final viewpoint from yours truly
The display from the All Blacks was excellence personified. Keep in mind, they rested some of their bigger guns. Check out the viewpoints here by USA vice-captain Mike Petri on the speed of the All Blacks play. His comments are similar to those stated to RWU by the RWU USA Man of the Match Blaine Scully regarding how fast the action was and the speed of the All Blacks attack on offense and defense. Scott LaValla said that when the All Blacks made a mistake the USA capitalized but not effectively while the All Blacks were ruthless when it came to USA mistakes.
I want to address some comments from the No Ferns Allowed, speaking with a few All Blacks fans, they were shocked to hear that Americans would root against their own team. “Can’t blame them because the Blackness are just awesome but your boys will need all the support they can get” was the response. To the fan talking about player wage scales and humility; after the game, the All Blacks were all in their suits and ties with thier army of handlers, while a USA 50 cap veteran was carrying the laundry out of the locker room. But it is the American athlete that is spoiled? All the American based players would love a chance to make 50K a year in a pro league in the country.
Hoping to not stumble climbing this soapbox but, the shoe is on the other foot when it comes to USA rugby. We are the poor riff-raff. We don’t have a seat at the table, we have reservations but the maitre’d can’t find it and has asked us to wait outside because we are disturbing thier customers. We just need novices and casual viewers to understand that rugby is not looking to surplant any of the big four sports, we just want to be another professional avenue for all athletes in this country, so at a young age they know they can be world class in another sport.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.