45 Days to Go!
The USA Rugby All Americans trained with the Navy SEALs prior to their three-game series with New Zealand Universities. The All Americans were put through rigorous workouts, and team manager Kevin Battle chronicled the endeavor and produced this video.
Courtesy of USA Rugby/Rugbymag
During a visit from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, President Obama gives a quick show of support for the USA Eagles team on their upcoming trip to New Zealand for the 2011 RWC.
”My understanding is the American team is heading out to New Zealand for the world rugby….Rugby World Cup. So good luck guys – although I hear the Kiwis are pretty good at rugby so I don’t think we are seeded number one. But I have confidence we will acquit ourselves well.” – Obama
Fast forward to 5:26
Our intrepid Kyle Jones hit the road again this weekend to cover the third and final rugby game between the U.S. College All Stars and the New Zealand Universities squads.
The U.S. were leading the series 2-0 and looking for the sweep. But the Kiwis were having none of that. (For full match report, see posts below.) They took the game 23-20, and head home feeling a lot better about their team. After the video of the haka, Kyle interviewed three of the players for their post-match reactions.
BOULDER, Colo. – Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has taken another step closer to his Rugby World Cup (RWC) team by narrowing the squad to 36 players for the August build-up.
Several of these Eagles are currently training in Glendale, Colo., with strength & conditioning coach Dave Williams, with the rest of the squad joining them on July 31. The team will then travel to Canada for the first of three RWC warm-up matches, starting at BMO Field in Toronto on August 6. Following that the USA will host Canada at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo., on August 13 for what is expected to be a packed encounter. Earlier that week the Glendale Raptors will take on a USA Select team on August 10 at Infinity Park.
The Eagles will then travel to Tokyo for their final RWC preparation against Japan on August 21.
“The player pool is now reduced to 36 players and the final RWC squad of 30, that will travel to New Zealand, will likely come from this pool,” commented O’Sullivan.
“Although with three test matches in August there is always the possibility of injuries, which may open up a late call up for some players who could come from inside or outside this pool of 36.”
The Eagles last played Canada in 2009 as part of the RWC qualifying process, winning the first clash 12-6, and going down 41-18 in the second. Canada is currently ranked 16th on the IRB world rankings, one place ahead of the USA. Japan has improved tremendously over the last few years, moving into 12th place on the IRB world rankings.
“The three warm-up tests will be very important in terms of making the final selections for the RWC squad and getting players up to match speed before our first pool game on September 11 against Ireland. It is also important we give players an opportunity to stake a claim for RWC spots while at the same time continue to build solid performances over the three weeks in camp,” explained the Eagles Head Coach.
One omission from the squad is San Francisco Golden Gate lock Samu Manoa, who has signed a professional contract with English Premiership Club, Northampton Saints.
“Samu Manoa will not be traveling to RWC. He signed a contract during the spring with English Premiership side Northampton Saints. Unfortunately, a clause in his contract prevents him from traveling to RWC. While I wish Samu every success as a professional rugby player and respect his decision to take up a contract overseas, it is disappointing we were only made aware of his unavailability for RWC as recently as three weeks ago,” expressed O’Sullivan.
By Kyle Jones, Rugby USA
In a tournament that left them struggling and looking for more, the New Zealand Universities managed to eke out a win against the All Americans on Saturday at Stanford University.
This looked as if it would be a repeat of the two previous games, both won by the All Americans, with the Collegians coming out ahead early and showing no signs of slowing down. Maintaining the lead into the half, the All Americans were set to make a sweep of this tour. But the Kiwis had other thoughts, and would charge back with a flurry of trys in the second half to tie the game at 20 points apiece. Late in the second half, the All Americans were in a situation they had not felt all series: under duress and on the verge of a loss.
When the pressure mounted, the All Americans cracked, giving up dropped balls, a yellow card infraction, and finally a late high tackle. This set up New Zealand with a chip in for three points with only minutes to go. But the All Americans, looking for the sweep, weren’t done yet. A flash of offloads put them within inches of the try line. Twenty-plus phases of play were unleashed on New Zealand’s defense as the All Americans inched closer and closer to the goal line.
They weren’t fighting New Zealand anymore, they were fighting the clock. The clock would win this time. The All Americans had come within inches of a try and had the entire crowd on their feet. The final result was New Zealand 23 All Americans 20. New Zealand would be able to fly home with their heads held high, having secured one win. But so could the All Americans, having won the series by 2-1.
For many, this was their last opportunity to play college rugby. They now move on to club level or possibly their own national team in either the World Cup or the Olympic Sevens. Unfortunately for some, this will be their only chance at playing rugby on an international level. It is understood that rugby is the ultimate in physical ball sports and that decisions made in an instant can sway the result. From a spectator’s point of view, this particular tour was marred by late punches, unsportsmanlike conduct, and a lack of respect for who and what the players represented.
Both teams should have remembered that they not only represent themselves or their team. They represent their country. This seemed to have been forgotten on occasion and somewhat marred a tour that should have been a great sporting spectacle as well as a building of friendship and a deepening of mutual understanding between the two countries.
By Jarrod Beckstrom, USA Rugby
STANFORD, Calif. – The USA Men’s Collegiate All-Americans fell three points shy (20-23) of a three-game sweep of the New Zealand Universities on Saturday at Steuber Rugby Stadium on the campus of Stanford University.
The All-Americans defeated the touring team 60-17 in the opening match of the tour last Saturday and 21-11 in the second on Wednesday. However in the final encounter, New Zealand played a very physical and opportunistic brand of rugby to win.
Big Dartmouth lock, Nate Brakeley, opened the scoring with a try in the opening five minutes and the Americans were off with a bang. They extended their lead through a JP Eloff penalty.
New Zealand answered back with a score and so it would go for the rest of the game, an American score and a response from the New Zealanders by try or by penalty.
Kyle Grossheider (Life University) scored next for the All-Americans, but the New Zealand Universities outside center scooted over for a try to answer back and the scores were 15-14, the hosts with a slight lead.
Update: Kiwis beat All Americans 23-20.
Game 3 kicks off live from Stanford University 1pm pst and 8am NZST.
Follow us on twitter: @usrugbynz and Ustream feed bellow for live updates.
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STANFORD, Calif. – The USA Men’s Collegiate All-Americans will take the field against the New Zealand Universities for the third and final match of their July tour. After winning the first two games, the All-Americans are targeting a sweep of the touring squad but they know it won’t come easy.
“We expect another physical, competitive match with New Zealand. Our goal has been to be playing our best rugby by the end of match three. That’s a tough task; to constantly get better…It’ll be interesting to see how much fight we put forth in this regard. We are looking forward to it,” said Alexander Magleby, the All-Americans head coach.
The front row is the same that was named in the series opener last Saturday, but they were largely rested in the midweek victory. The starting second row is changed entirely from the midweek game as well.
Ryan Roundy (BYU) has been named captain of the side and resumes his place at eight man. He has a strong supporting cast in the loose forwards in the form of Derek Asbun (University of California – Berkeley) and Garrett Lambert (Life University). Lambert and Asbun both started in the last game.
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Part of U.S. Embassy Wellington’s year-long celebration of the Rugby World Cup has involved a wonderful exchange program between New Zealand and Hawaii.
We partnered with a group called Education-1st Hawaii on an innovative sports exchange focused on skills development, team building, and cross-cultural linkages. It began back in December, when three seasoned New Zealand coaches travelled to Hawaii. They put on intensive clinics for two hundred Hawaiian kids. You can read about the accomplishments and goals of the program here. Wesley Clarke of the NZ Rugby Union also trained Hawaiian coaches in the latest safety standards, to minimize injuries.
Then, last month, a group of Hawaiian Rugby players came over to New Zealand for some hardcore training, playing and fun. I AM TV did a couple of excellent interviews with the players. They’re really fun to watch.
The great thing about these exchanges is the celebration of our shared culture – and of course the differences. These Hawaiian Ruggers looked like they had a great time and were so well hosted by their new Kiwi friends.