Team Guide – USA
WORLD RANKING: 15
SUMMED UP IN THREE WORDS: Focused, Youthful, Empowering
THE HEAD COACH: New Yorker Mike Tolkin has been involved in rugby in the USA for 20 years, which includes serving their Under 19’s as backs coach when he was still just 23-years old. In 2011, he took over as defensive coach of the national team before being appointed the head coach ahead of this year’s forthcoming World Cup.
FAMILIAR FACES: Saracens trio Hayden Smith, Chris Wyles and Titi Lamositele will be known by fans in England while Samu Manoa is a world-renowned talent for his time with both Northampton and current club Toulon.
KEY PLAYER: Fly-half AJ MacGinty made his USA debut during the recent Pacific Nations Cup and made a real impression with some impressive displays. He kicked two late scores to guide The Eagles to two narrow victories against Canada and Japan respectively and his ability from the tee will be key to any success they have at the upcoming World Cup.
YOUNG GUN: Washington-born Titi Lamositele impressed the world for United States U20 and earned a professional contract with Premiership side Saracens. The 20-year old prop has now become a stalwart in Tolkin’s team, winning 13 Test caps so far, scoring his first try against Samoa during the Pacific Nations Cup in 2015.
STYLE: They play a defensive brand of rugby to ensure they are always competitive in matches. Nevertheless, they always have the pace among their backs to sucker punch you with a breakaway try.
BEST RWC MOMENT: The USA waited 16 year’s for their second RWC win and triumphed in style in 2003, overcoming Japan 39-26 in what was a thoroughly entertaining display from both sides.
WORST RWC MOMENT: After dominating much of the game The Eagles narrowly lost 19-18 to Fiji in 2003. This result was made exceptionally galling due to the fact they missed a conversion in extra time, which would have given them the deserved win.
COMMENTATOR’S GO-TO FACT: The USA were the only team to score a try against Australia in 1999 when the Wallabies romped to their second World Cup success.
EXPECTATIONS: The Eagles do not arrive at the World Cup with any expectations on them; however, their supporters will demand hard work from their team in every match. They will be aiming to finish off the bottom of the Pool.
VIEW FROM THE STANDS: Dean, 36, Washington DC
How do you think The Eagles will fare at the World Cup? A lot more of the team are now full-time professionals who play in high-level competitions. This experience has given the squad I think a better mentality to go and perform at a World Cup while previously it might have just been more of a trip away with the fellas. It’s still going to be a challenge, but I expect us to get a victory in there somewhere.
Where is the team strongest? From what I saw in the Pacific Nations Cup team spirit is something this group has in abundance. If they can stick together and fight for each other who knows what they could achieve.
Who do you think will win it? Got to be the All Blacks for me, they are explosive.
RUCK VERDICT: The Eagles have been handed a competitive Pool full of very effective rugby nations. They will take confidence from their win over Japan during the Pacific Nations Cup, however, it will be tough for them with their inexperienced group to finish off the bottom of the Pool.
20/09/2015: Samoa vs. USA, Olympic Stadium (London). Kick off 12:00
27/09/2015: Scotland vs. USA, Elland Road (Leeds). Kick off 14:30
07/10/2015: South Africa vs. USA, Olympic Stadium (London). Kick off 16:45
11/10/2015: USA vs. Japan, Kingsholm (Gloucester). Kick off 20:00
Total travelling between games: 532 miles
Forwards: Danny Barrett, Chris Baumann, Cameron Dolan, Andrew Durutalo, Zach Fenoglio, Eric Fry, Olive Kilifi, Titi Lamositele, Scott LaValla, Samu Manoa, Al McFarland, Matekitonga Moeakiola, Greg Peterson, John Quill, Hayden Smith, Louis Stanfill, Joe Taufete’e, Phil Thiel
Backs: Seamus Kelly, Niko Kruger, AJ MacGinty, Taku Ngwenya, Folau Niua, Thretton Palamo, Mike Petri, Blaine Scully, Andrew Suniula, Shalom Suniula, Zack Test, Brett Thompson, Chris Wyles