If it wasn’t quite apple pie and motherhood, it was the next best thing: hot dogs, kids and cheerleaders.
Oh, and there were cute dogs with Stars and Stripes flags.
The USA Sevens rugby team arrived in Wellington this week for the two-day festival that is as much about fancy dress costumes as sports. Still, the Eagles have won the Shield here the last two years in a row and Coach Al Caravelli said he is hoping to do better this year – he’s sensing an upset, he said.
The U.S. is in a tough opening-day pool, with England, South Africa and the Cook Islands. The Eagles will play the first game of the tournament at 1 p.m. on Friday.
But Monday it was all about getting to know the team. The event was open to the public and kids from all over Wellington showed up for the lunchtime event. The Eagles played touch rugby and had foot races with anybody – young, old or cheerleader. They signed autographs and just hung out with anyone who wanted a chat.
They also met the Eaglelites, the group of cheerleaders from Wanganui who will be trying to get the crowd at Westpac Stadium fired up for the Eagles during the games and on Thursday’s parade through the streets of Wellington.
Hot dogs and sodas were provided to all comers. The Eagles stuck around until every kid had fallen exhausted to the ground after all-out touch rugby games under the (for once) hot sun of Wellington and every autograph had been signed.
Next up is the parade of nations that takes place on Thursday. All 16 participating teams will take to the streets of Wellington on floats and give out various goodies to the huge crowds. Then, on Friday, it’s down to the serious business of rugby.
After three rounds of the nine-round IRB Sevens series, the Eagles are in 11th place out of 21 competing teams. They are on 17 points and need to up their game if they are to be serious competitors for a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The team enjoys their time in Wellington, they said, and will have to knock off either South Africa or England in the first round to amass some serious points here. After Wellington, the tournament moves to Las Vegas for the USA Sevens next weekend.
BOULDER, Colo. – Eddie O’Sullivan has named a new-look Eagles team to face Australia in their third pool match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). The USA Head Coach has made several changes for the 8.30 p.m clash on Friday at the Wellington Regional Stadium. The match will be LIVE on Universal Sports at 4.30 a.m ET and re-aired at 8 p.m ET. View the complete broadcast schedule at UniversalSports.com. (Photo Credit: USA Rugby)
“We have had a number of changes to the team, as we want to get fresh legs on the field after our first two performances. We also have Italy four days after Australia and we need to keep some players ready for that game,” commented O’Sullivan.
Despite the pool stages of the RWC being played over one month, the major talking point has been the shortened turn-around times for tier 2 nations like the United States. The squad has put in a tremendous amount of work, and several players have been rewarded with starts against Australia.
The Wallabies – currently ranked 3rd in the world – won the 2011 Tri Nations competition over New Zealand and South Africa. During the RWC they defeated Italy 32-6, but lost 15-6 against Ireland in one of the upsets of the tournament.
“The team is really looking forward to meeting the challenge of playing the Wallabies head on. It’s a great opportunity for those starting their first RWC test to pitch themselves against one of the best teams in the world and make a case for selection in the final pool game against Italy.” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles have been based in Wellington since Monday, and will attend a function with the US Ambassador along with several hundred supporters later this evening.
The team to face Australia will be lead by livewire scrumhalf, Tim Usasz, who goes head-to-head with Australian captain Will Genia. Nese Malifa gains a start in the accustomed number 10 jersey, with the center pairing consisting of Junior Sifa and Tai Enosa. Kevin Swiryn and Colin Hawley return to the wings while Blaine Scully starts at fullback.
Shawn Pittman and Phil Thiel are back in the front row after playing the first RWC match against Ireland. Eric Fry is at tighthead prop making his RWC debut. The experienced Hayden Smith will partner Scott LaValla in the locks. The loose trio, who will be looking to hault the side-stepping Wallaby Quade Cooper, are Inaki Basauri, Pat Danahy and JJ Gagiano.
The forward reserves are Brian McClenahan (hooker), Mate Moeakiola (prop) together with Louis Stanfill and Nic Johnson who can cover lock and the loose forward positions. Mike Petri (scrumhalf), Roland Suniula (flyhalf, center) and Chris Wyles (fullback) are the backline replacements.
The Eagles will travel to Nelson on Saturday, and take on Italy on September 27 for the final Pool C match.
Several thousand fans are expected to cheer on the Eagles on Friday evening at the Wellington Regional Stadium with the team receiving wonderful support throughout the RWC.
15 Blaine Scully (Unattached)
14 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
13 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
12 Junior Sifa (Nottingham RFC)
11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC) *Captain
1 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
2 Phil Thiel (Life University)
3 Eric Fry (Las Vegas Blackjacks)
4 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)
6 Inaki Basauri (Perigueux)
7 Pat Danahy (Life University)
8 JJ Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town)
16 Brian McClenahan (Olympic Club)
17 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93)
18 Louis Stanfill (NYAC)
19 Nic Johnson (Unattached)
20 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)
21 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
22 Chris Wyles (Saracens)
15 Kurtley Beale
14 Adam Ashley-Cooper
13 Anthony Fainga’a
12 Robert Horne
11 Drew Mitchell
10 Quade Cooper
9 Will Genia *Captain
1 James Slipper
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau
3 Ben Alexander
4 Rob Simmons
5 Nathan Sharpe
6 Rocky Elsom
7 Ben McCalman
8 Wycliff Palu
16 Stephen Moore
17 Sekope Kepu
18 Dan Vickerman
19 Radike Samo
20 Luke Burgess
21 Berrick Barnes
22 Pat McCabe
RWC 2011 SCHEDULE | NEW ZEALAND
September 23, 2011: USA vs. Australia (Wellington) 20.30
September 27, 2011: USA vs. Italy (Nelson) 19.30
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)
Dallen Stanford | USA Eagles Rugby World Cup Media Manager | USA Rugby | email@example.com | 512-565-5737
Follow USA Rugby on Facebook and Twitter (@usaeaglesrugby)
The USA Eagles were welcomed to Scots College in Wellington by a crowd of over 500 supporters at a ‘Meet the Eagles’ event. A group of Scots College students performed a Haka in front of the Eagles (video below) before the U.S. national anthem and speeches by the U.S. Ambassador Huebner and Eagles captain, Todd Clever. The supporters were then treated to an all American style dinner, and a chance to have photos with and autographs signed by the Eagles players.
More photos to come.
Here are a couple of videos from the tailgate party prior to the Eagles Russia RWC match in New Plymouth.
BOULDER, Colo. – The USA Eagles showed tremendous heart to defeat Russia 13-6 at Stadium Taranaki and record their first win at the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). It was a huge team performance from the Eagles in very wet conditions which saw a fantastic Mike Petri try, and the boot of Chris Wyles giving the United States their third win in RWC history.
“Delighted with the win and the performance of the team. We retained our intensity and work rate from the Ireland game. We knew Russia would play to the very end, and we prepared for that eventuality. We had Russian under pressure on numerous occasions, but they defended really well and made us work for every score we got,” said Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan.
Russia started the match off fiercely resulting in a successful third minute penalty from flyhalf Yury Kushnarev. The Eagles came straight back strongly, using dangerous wings James Paterson and Taku Ngwenya in sweeping attacking movements. It was off a great platform setup by the forwards that created space out wide for Roland Suniula to bust through near the halfway line. The flyhalf found his brother, Andrew, who broke through the defense and sent Mike Petri into open space. The scrumhalf did superbly carrying a tackler over the line to score a fantastic team try for the Eagles. Wyles converted putting the USA up 10-3 after 20 minutes.
The intensity at the contact point was as intense as ever, with so much riding on this battle. The Eagles had two more penalties in the Russian half, but were unable to add to their lead as the first half ended. The Russians had to make 83 tackles compared to the Eagles 33 in the first period.
Despite the conditions, the packed crowd witnessed some beautiful rugby during the evening. The Eagles dominated possession, using width on attack, and the constant pressure led to another penalty from Chris Wyles.
Russia fought back strongly near fulltime, kicking three points through center Konstantin Rachkov. They got very close to the Eagles tryline, but two magnificent lineout steals from John van der Giessen haulted the attack. The Eagles defended bravely for the remaining minutes, until victory arrived at Stadium Taranaki.
Todd Clever had another massive game leading the Eagles. The tight forwards were excellent at the set pieces, and the backline moved the ball around during difficult conditions. The try by Petri was brilliant backline support, and Wyles produced an outstanding performance returning from injury. The Man-of-the-Match was veteran prop Mike MacDonald who had another barn stormer. MacDonald also equaled the record for the most RWC appearances of 10 matches, set by Alec Parker.
“We now have some time to rest a lot of tired bodies and get ready for the Australia game.” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles will face the Australia on September 23 in Wellington.
1 Mike MacDonald 2 Chris Biller 3 Matekitonga Moeakiola 4 John Van Der Giessen 5 Hayden Smith 6 Louis Stanfill 7 Todd Clever 8 Nic Johnson 9 Mike Petri 10 Roland Suniula 11 James Paterson 12 Andrew Suniula 13 Paul Emerick 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya 15 Chris Wyles.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel 17 Shawn Pittman 18 Scott LaValla 19 Pat Danah 20 Tim Usasz 21 Nese Malifa 22 Blaine Scully.
Coach: Eddie O’Sullivan.
1 Sergey Popov 2 Vladislav Korshunov 3 Ivan Prishchepenko 4 Alexander Voytov 5 Denis Antonov 6 Artem Fatakhov 7 Andrey Garbuzov 8 Vyacheslav Grachev 9 Alexander Shakirov 10 Yury Kushnarev 11 Vasily Artemyev 12 Alexey Makovetskiy 13 Konstantin Rachkov 14 Vladimir Ostroushko 15 Igor Klyuchnikov.
Replacements: 16 Valery Tsnobiladze 17 Alexander Khrokin 18 Vladimir Botvinnikov 19 Adam Byrnes 20 Victor Gresev 21 Alexander Yanyushkin 22 Andrey Kuzin.
Coach: Nikolay Nerush.
An iron curtain has gone up between Taranaki energy industry workmates Dmitry Molokhov and Lance Johnson.
The pair work just metres apart at Shell Todd Oil Services Ltd in New Plymouth, and under normal circumstances they’re great mates.
But this week things are different. They’ve drawn a thin blue line on the office carpet – even dubbed it the Iron Curtain – and now they’re indulging in a Cold War of words from either side of the line.
And the reason? The United States meet Russia in a Rugby World Cup game at Stadium Taranaki tonight.
It’s all part of a whole series of fun activities going on inside STOS headquarters where – in a perfect illustration of the diversity of nationalities working in the energy industry in New Zealand – every country participating in the RWC is represented in the staff of more than 300.
Mr Molokhov, a reservoir engineer from St Petersburg, Russia, has been in New Plymouth for about a year after shifting from Perth, and up until now his only real contact with rugby was the time he reversed his car into a vehicle driven by a member of the Western Force super-15 team.
But now he’s a real fan, and he’s hoping for big things from Russia tonight.
“I hope it’s a tough game, maybe with a little Cold War tension,” he said yesterday.
Meanwhile American Mr Johnson, a geologist from Florida who has lived in Taranaki for four years, is confident USA will win.
“We’ve already beaten the Russians once this year and I think we’ll do it again,” he said.
But he’s a little worried that already, Mr Molokhov might have pinched one of the USA fans.
“My three-year-old son Asher came into work the other day to see all the World Cup displays, and Dmitry gave him a Russian flag that he’s now got on his bedroom wall,” he said.
“When I asked him the other night who he wanted to win, he said America – and Russia.”
- Taranaki Daily News
Patrick Donaldson, 38, Portland, Oregon.
Who are you supporting?
I’m here to support the United States but I’m really down here just to watch good rugby.
The United States isn’t really known for rugby-playing or watching – how did you get into it?
I play rugby in the US – I’ve been playing for about 18 years, since college – that’s where most Americans come in contact with it.
What will you be yelling at matches?
I’m going to the Russia game against the US and I’ve got a flag suit that’s full-on stripes – it’s pretty cool. I don’t know what I’ll be screaming but I’m sure it will be really intelligent and well thought- out.
Tell us a little known fact about your country.
Rugby is where soccer was in the US maybe 10 years ago, so watch out – we’re coming.
What will you be doing tonight?
I’m going to go and do some yoga, actually. And going to meet [fellow Portlanders] for a drink.
What will you tell your friends back home about the tournament?
The people are super-nice – really friendly and welcoming, even to an American.
Where are you going next?
I’m going from here to New Plymouth and from there to Auckland, and then making my way back down here.
What do you like about Wellington?
I’m an architect, so I really enjoy the architecture and the public spaces – it’s got a good combination of contemporary and older stuff.
Who is your favourite All Black?
I have to say [Richie] McCaw – he’s bad-ass. He just plays hard.
Who is going to win the cup?
New Zealand, hands down.
- The Dominion Post
Only 17 days to go!
Here is a sneak peek behind the scenes at preparations for the RWC 2011 Opening Ceremony.