Bad luck Eagles, well done Italy. Italy won the Rugby World Cup match in Nelson by 27-10. Thank-you USA Eagles for your time in New Zealand – you did well.
BOULDER, Colo. – The USA Eagles put everything on the line in their final match at the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). They lost to Italy 27-10 at Trafalgar Park in Nelson, but have gained thousands of new fans across New Zealand and the world. (Photo Credit: USA Rugby)
“I am very proud of how the team performed in our final game at the RWC. I felt they showed tremendous spirit and commitment for the full 80 minutes. We really made Italy work hard for their victory, and stayed in the game until near the end,” said Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan.The United States scored the try of the match, and after 26 minutes were level with Italy at 10-10. On the stroke of half time Italy added to their total, taking them 20-10 ahead at the break. In the second period they scored twice more, despite being put under pressure from the Eagles.
“For some reason we got on the wrong side of the referee and a penalty count of 19 to 7, which mitigated against us in sustaining continued pressure on Italy. Once we got some flow to our game, we put them under pressure on numerous occasions,” continued O’Sullivan.
Italy had a dream start to the match as captain Sergio Parisse found a hole in the defense, and dived over for the opening points in the third minute. Mirco Bergamasco kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles came back strongly, and scored a fantastic try. Todd Clever took an excellent lineout, with Roland Suniula finding Paul Emerick on the run. The powerful center broke through two tacklers, and with a deft Sonny Bill Williams back hand flick pass sent Chris Wyles over for the try. Wyles added the two points, and it was 7-7 after 20 minutes.
Prop Mike MacDonald had another monster game, rumbling through the Italian defense. His work rate was outstanding, and was highlighted as one of the Eagles players of the tournament along with captain Clever. MacDonald also became the most capped USA player at a RWC with 11 appearances.
Later in the half Wyles traded penalties with Italy’s Bergamasco to make the score 10-10. The Eagles had plenty of attacking opportunities playing an expansive game plan, but could not convert this into points. On the Italian side, nippy flyhalf Luciano Orquera dived over to score his team’s second try. Bruising prop Martin Castrogiovanni bull-dozed his way over on the stroke of half time, putting Italy in front by 20-10.
In the second period some amazing Eagle defense prevented scores from Italy. Louis Stanfill, Hayden Smith and Emerick were all heavily involved shutting down certain Italian tries. The level of commitment was outstanding, with Italy putting 50 points on Russia last week.
The Italians pressured the Eagles in the final 20 minutes seeing a penalty try during scrum time, and Stanfill receiving a yellow card in the process. One would not have noticed the Eagles were a man short as they defended their line fiercely, and on attack carried the ball through some great phases.
Italy defended extremely well, and the score remained 27-10, with the Eagles exiting the RWC in 4th place in Pool C ahead of Russia.
“Overall it’s been a very enjoyable World Cup. We set our goal of beating Russia and pushing some of the Tier 1 Nations, which we achieved. The Eagles have definitely won over a lot of supporters in New Zealand during this RWC.” said the Head Coach.
The USA squad will depart for America tomorrow, with many players returning to their day jobs following almost two months on tour. The Eagles can hold their heads high for what was a very brave and spirited performance at the 2011 RWC. Every member of the USA team were presented with medals for taking part in the RWC tournament. - USA Rugby
RWC 2011 RESULTS | NEW ZEALAND
September 11, 2011: USA 10 Ireland 22 (Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth)
September 15, 2011: USA 13 Russia 6 (Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth)
September 23, 2011: USA 5 Australia 67 (Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington)
September 27, 2011: USA 10 Italy 27 (Trafalgar Park, Nelson)
The Nelson Mail writes about Junior Sifa’s return to Nelson, where he has a long rugby playing history.
The USA Eagles take on Italy tonight in Nelson at 7:30 p.m. (New Zealand time). The match will be broadcast LIVE on Universal Sports at 2:30 a.m EDT (re-aired at 8 p.m EDT), and then will be shown delayed online 24 hours after the game. View the complete viewing schedule at UniversalSports.com.
There promises to be a fired-up capacity crowd in Nelson for the game tonight. The U.S. returns most of its starters to the line-up, hoping for a victory that will automatically qualify them for the next Rugby World Cup.
The Italians, though, are also focused on this game, and it should be a pulsating contest.
The little community of Richmond, outside Nelson, will have put a bit of fire in U.S. bellies after a heart-warming celebration of all things American, including a parade. Being so warmly embraced so far from home has got to feel good.
USA Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has named his best possible team to face Italy at Trafalgar Park in Nelson for the Eagles’ final match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). A win for the USA would mean automatic qualification for the 2015 RWC.
The match will be broadcast LIVE on Universal Sports at 2:30 a.m EDT (re-aired at 8 p.m EDT), and then will be shown delayed online 24 hours after the game. View the complete viewing schedule at UniversalSports.com.
In Pool C, Australia (3rd in world rankings) and Ireland (6th in world rankings) are on course for the RWC quarterfinals, with only two teams from each of the four pools advancing. The USA are currently ranked 17th and Italy are 10th in the world. The Italians have made tremendous strides in rugby since joining the Six Nations competition in 2000. Earlier this year Italy defeated France 22-21.
“We are very excited for this final pool match, and have several players fresh for the encounter. We have a very short turn-around following the Australia match in Wellington, and have planned accordingly,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles have impressed at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, starting with an inspired performance against Ireland on September 11. Despite losing 22-10, the Eagles won thousands of fans for a brave effort, scoring near full time through Paul Emerick. During that match, prop Mike MacDonald became the most capped USA player of all time with 63 appearances.
In the next pool match four days later, the USA defeated Russia 13-6 to record an historic win in the RWC. It was a bruising battle in which the Russians defended tremendously to keep the score line that close.
This past weekend fourteen changes were made to the team that won against Russia, as they faced Australia, winners of the RWC in 1991 and 1999. JJ Gagiano’s try against the Wallabies was one of the moments of the match at a packed Wellington Regional Stadium, with the majority of fans screaming wildly for the Eagles. Famous New Zealand commentator Murray Mexted said, “I’ve been to hundreds of matches in Wellington, and this is the loudest I have ever heard the crowd.”
Off the field, the USA squad has been heavily involved with the local communities in the various cities. This afternoon some of the players will attend the Tasman 7s, featuring 600 youth rugby players from many local regions. Tomorrow the Eagles will be at the Richmond Parade, meeting the Mayor as well as the US Ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner.
On the field, Todd Clever returns to lead his country as captain. The flanker has been vital for the United States, devastating with both ball in hand and on defense. Louis Stanfill is the blindside flank with Nic Johnson at eight man, both possessing an outstanding work rate.
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By Shauna Mendez, Embassy Wellington
Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Mauiis the Māori name for the top of the South Island. Legend tells us that Te Tau Ihu was the prow of Maui’s waka, or canoe, from which he fished up the North Island.
The city of Nelson is close to the centre of New Zealand. It lies at the shore of Tasman Bay, at the northern end of the South Island, and is the administrative center of the Nelson region.
The Nelson-Tasman region may well be one of the most diverse tourist destinations in New Zealand. Nelson is the gateway to three National Parks, including Abel Tasman – the country’s only coastal National Park, surrounded by mountains and known for year-round sun and golden beaches, the region boasts a vibrant arts and culture community and some of the best wineries in NZ.
But most importantly – Nelson is the birthplace of rugby in New Zealand – that’s right, over 140 years ago in May 1870, the first game using recognized rugby rules was played in Nelson between the Nelson Rugby Football Club and Nelson College. The historic event is attributed to the efforts of Charles Monro, the father of NZ rugby, who was from Nelson.
So it’s only fitting that Trafalgar Park will be hosting a number of games during the Rugby World Cup in 2011, including USA vs. Italy on 27 September.
Originally known as The Mudflat Recreation Ground, Trafalgar Park was built in the 1880’s on eight acres of reclaimed land by the Nelson Athletic Ground Company. The park has undergone some upgrades in the past year and will be able to house 18,000 spectators for its RWC games this year. Located just a five minute walk from the Nelson CBD, Trafalgar Park is the most accessible RWC venues in the country.
There are already lots of great activities and events being planned in Nelson and surrounding towns around the RWC. The one that we think sounds the most exciting is The Richmond Festival, which will be a red, white, and blue extravaganza of food, drinks, contests, and activities with a USA theme.
Richmond is the largest urban settlement in the Tasman District, only 15km south of Nelson. Its fast growing population is attracted by the surrounding natural beauty and vibrant feel of the town.
The town of Richmond has elected to ‘adopt’ the USA Eagles as their team to root for and this festival promises to bring the perfect mix of Americana and Kiwiana in the run-up to the game on the 27 of September. Check out the website for all the details and to see how you can get involved. The Richmond Festival will be featured on NZ’s Breakfast morning show on 11 July 2011.
For more info on all the festivities happening in the region around the Rugby Worlds Cup, have look at some of these useful websites. You can also sign up on facebook to join the USA RWC 2011 Supporters Group and get some USA Eagles gear from USA rugby direct.
Nelson City Council RWC website: http://www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz/rugby-world-cup-2011-nelson/
Sports & Heritage events: http://www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz/sport-heritage/
In a dress rehearsal for the highly anticipated USA-Russia Rugby World Cup game on Sept. 15, the Eagles will meet the Russian Bear in the Bowl final of the Churchill Cup on Saturday, June 18, in England.
The Russians came back ferociously against Italy A over the weekend, but lost 24-19. That meant the Russians, like the U.S., have yet to win a game in the Churchill Cup. Both teams are focusing intensely on their New Plymouth clash during the RWC, as both believe it is a contest they can win. For a game that looked innocuous to Kiwi schedulers a while back, this clash is taking on a bit of hype and should be a fiercely contested match.
The USA Eagles put a bit of a hurting on the Russians in last year’s Churchill Cup contest, winning 39-22, but the Russians have been training hard and are focusing on the RWC as a way to highlight and promote their sport back home and to the world.
The last pool game for the U.S.A. Eagles during Rugby World Cup 2011 is against Italy in Nelson on Sept. 27.
The little town of Richmond, just outside Nelson, has adopted the Eagles and will be putting on three days of parties, Sevens Rugby tournaments and Americana around the match. There will even be tailgating, translated roughly – very roughly – by The Nelson Mail as “a car boot picnic.”
Tailgating is particularly huge before college football – that’s university gridiron here. Whole villages spring up around the stadiums hours, sometimes days, before the kickoff. Fans set up shop with chairs, canopies, grills and games. Smoke rises from the barbecues as if from the campfires of occupying armies from the days of yore. There is music and frivolity that build up excitement for the game.
The New Zealanders are planning some traditional Kiwi events, too, according to The Mail, including duck herding and gumboot toss, more of which later. We promise
So, anyone wanting to show their support for the Eagles should head out to Jubilee Park for food, fun and games, beginning Sept. 25. There’s even talk of a block party in Richmond with burgers, baton twirlers and classic cars, according to The Mail.
Stay tuned for our plans for the big party in Nelson/Richmond. Until then, though, here’s a big shout-out to the folks in Richmond who are putting on such a great welcome to the Eagles and the USA supporters. We feel at home there already.
Adrian Pratt, U.S. Embassy
Editor’s note: Paddy O’Brien is a New Zealand international rugby union referee and currently the head of the International Rugby Board’s Referee Board. He recently wrote this piece about the upcoming Rugby World Cup 2011 for us:
It will a great day in New Plymouth on September 11th when that city hosts Ireland and USA in their opening games of RWC 2011. A number of features stand out. September 11 is a significant date in that it will be the 10th anniversary of the attack on America by Al Qaeda: the U.S. Eagles are coached by the man who led Ireland into the 2007 World Cup, Eddie O’Sullivan; and USA, the last Olympic Rugby Champions (1924), will have to be all out to hold a team ranked several places ahead of them on the IRB rankings.
Whilst most people associate the USA with gridiron, it is fair to say Rugby Union is becoming stronger each year in a country which we all know produces wonderful athletes. Whilst I have never refereed USA in the 15s form of the game I have witnessed them on the IRB Sevens circuit and the passion and power they show in this form of the game is outstanding. Their Sevens coach, Al Caravelli, is a real character who lives and breathes the game and the improvement they have shown since the series began is immense.
Junior Sifa, who helped the USA Eagles qualify for the Rugby World Cup with a try against Uruguay, moved to New Zealand when he was nine. A former Nelson Bays player, Sifa is hoping to play in front of a hometown crowd when the U.S. take on Italy in Nelson on September 27 in the big tournament.
Due to injury, Sifa did not play for the Eagles against Georgia recently, but he told The Nelson Mail earlier last year he’s definitely got his eyes on the prize of the Rugby World Cup. As he was born in American Samoa, Sifa, 27, was eligible to play for not only the Eagles, but also the All Blacks and Samoa.
The New Zealand Herald wrote a nice little story about Sifa and about the Italian team, who will be making Nelson their home for much of the Rugby World Cup.
You can read it here.