RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About the USA
Rugby

RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About the USA

RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About the USA

 

USA! USA! USA!…..  Okay, a bit over the top there. But here’s something to consider. Rugby is on the up in the States and their increased coaching and participation have improved the national team’s outlook. This might just end up being the Eagles’ year in the Rugby World Cup.

1.  The Recent Form

The Yanks have been getting progressively better over the last few years. This year, they’ve won 3 of the 5 tests they’ve played. The two losses came during the Pacific Nations Cup against the much higher-ranked Tonga and Samoa. And they were close losses. They also defeated Japan in that competition this year. That’s important in the context of this year’s RWC.

They’ve also flipped the script on Canada recently, reversing the previous relationship to win their last 3 matches against their northern neighbour.

2.  The 7s Movement

1b

7s is becoming extremely popular in the US and is improving the stocks of backs the country had been unable to produce previously. Almost all of the players in the backline are experienced 7s campaigners and represent their country in both forms of the game.

Five of the current squad came directly out of the 7s program, including one of the players to watch – Zack Test. The winger has just 3 test caps, but has over 100 tries in the Sevens World Series. These guys are bringing a lot of motor to the team, which previously seemed a bit sluggish and set-piece focussed.

3.  Samu Manoa

2901DDA400000578-0-image-a-70_1432908121577

Manoa – moving the advantage line

Samu Manoa just sounds like the name of a big, tough dude, doesn’t it. And Samu doesn’t disappoint. At 201cm tall and 122kg, the bloke sure is a big unit.

More than that, though, he can play. He’s spent the last five years and 122 games terrorising the Premiership for Northampton. He’s impressed so much that he’s recently moved to superstar retirement village, Toulon.

While he’s been plying his trade at lock in the UK, it seems likely he’ll see a fair bit of his game time at Number 8 – especially considering that the lock spots are being ably handled by Australian-Americans, Hayden Smith and Greg Peterson.

4.  The Captain Controversy

2982

Wyles touching down for Sarries – with style

The Eagles will be led by some bloke named Chris Wyles. Prior to July, the captain was the much more recognisable 63 test flanker, Todd Clever, who apparently showed how inappropriately named he is when he was dumped from the squad for disciplinary reasons.

To be fair to Wyles, he’s been around a long time and has a lot of experience. He’ll likely captain the team from the fullback position, though his 177 caps for Saracens have mostly been on the wing. With 49 tests under his belt, he has the team experience to take on the job, as well.

There’s a fair bit of weight falling on Wyles’ shoulders this year. He’s stepping into the shoes of Clever, who is probably the Eagles’ biggest name. More than that, though, 300,000 players and who knows how many supporters will want to see the team crystallise under his leadership.

5.  Swimming in a Small Pool

2071953_LRG-169

This is where it gets interesting. A lot of pundits have written the Eagles off before they even arrive for the tournament. The UK Telegraph unceremoniously said “…their main goal will be to not finish bottom.”

But I suspect that sells the Eagles short.

The USA joins South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and Japan in pool B. And while none of these would be considered an easy win for the USA, three of the games are winnable.

The Eagles have already beaten Japan and came within 5 points of Samoa during the Pacific Nations Cup. With Manoa and other key players to be added to the squad from that tournament, they’d give themselves a chance against both teams. And, if you’re giving yourself a chance against Samoa, you’d surely give yourself a chance against the Scots, as well.

I certainly don’t think they’re going to run the board, but a game or two really isn’t out of the question. And, if you’re a betting person, 50-1 might be a pretty good price for them to get out of the pool.

  • Yabba88

    Good stuff! Well researched and written.

  • npivag

    What I don’t understand (and google is the no help is):
    a) What did Clever do?
    b) Obviously he isn’t captain, but is he in the squad?

    • Nutta

      “multiple squad conduct violations” is the best I can find. Whatever that means… Maybe he texted porno photos of people around the place and said it looked like someone’s wife/mother/daughter then asked if anyone wanted to “shag it”? Maybe he slagged off a coach and manager? Maybe he wore the wrong shirt whilst on national duties and had a tanty when asked to change to the point where he was physically restrained by a team-mate in a public place? Maybe he punched a few team-mates including his captain? Who knows? Maybe a national union actually has some balls? They are all allegations and maybe’s I guess.

      • GoMelbRebels

        Like!

    • Chris M

      As Nutta mentions, it’s not been publicised. But I can confirm he’s not in the squad. He is playing 7s during this period, though.

      • npivag

        That’s a shame. Clever was never as dominant as his reputation suggested, but he’s still a big out for an improving nation with very little depth.

        • Nutta

          True that.

    • Ryan

      The word on the street here in the US seems to be he missed a team meeting/practice (or two) to attend the ESPY awards when he got put in this years issue of ESPN ‘Body’… Don’t think the team granted him leave to go celebrate his beautiful bod and locks- but he took it anyway… It’s not easy being really really ridiculously good looking

      • npivag

        If that’s the case, what a fuckwit. But also, team USA should name him in their squad for the WC and just strip him of leadership positions.

      • Nutta

        Does he have a Blue Steel pic?

  • Ben

    That’s actually a pretty soft pool, I imagine Japan will also fancy themselves a chance. It’s really South Africa then daylight

  • The Eagles are my second team now. Go Eagles! After Saturday.

  • Chris M

    Bugger. I just realised that I forgot to use my hilarious “That’s what I’m Tolkin about!” joke.

Rugby

Mrs Mac thinks Chris talks about Rugby far too much. She's probably right. If he's not coaching, he's watching. And if he's not doing either, he's jibbering incessantly about it. He has also been named as a finalist in the Asteron Life Community Coach of the Year for 2015. Mrs Mac remains unimpressed.

More in Rugby