Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
BOULDER, Colo. – Three changes have been made to the starting USA Eagles team that will face Russia during their Rugby World Cup (RWC) clash at Stadium Taranaki on September 15th.
United States Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has brought in hooker Chris Biller, prop Mate Moeakiola and fullback Chris Wyles who is returning from injury. The match will be LIVE on TV at Universal Sports at 3:30 a.m EDT and then re-aired at 8 p.m EDT. The online option will only be on-demand 24 hours after the match, details at UniversalSports.com.
“It is a quick turnaround to Thursday’s game and we have made minimal changes to the team. We need to build on the momentum we created in the Ireland game and prepare ourselves for an extremely tough test with the Russians,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles impressed during their RWC opening match against Ireland, putting in an inspired performance against one of the top rated teams in the world. A packed stadium in New Plymouth was treated to some monstrous tackles from the Eagles and an excellent Paul Emerick try, earning plenty of respect from the rugby community. Ireland held on to win 22-10 against the USA.
Russia has yet to play a match in the RWC, while the USA is recovering from a massive encounter on Sunday.
“With the short turnaround we cannot do much physical work, but that doesn’t prevent us from preparing mentally to face a Russian team that has targeted the Eagles as their RWC scalp,” O’Sullivan stated.
The team to face Russia will be led again by Todd Clever, who had a fantastic opening performance. The front row sees two changes through hooker Chris Biller and prop Mate Moeakiola, both of whom will be fresh for this match. Veteran prop Mike MacDonald will earn his 64th cap, and is set to equal lock Alec Parker’s RWC record of 10 appearances.
The rest of the pack is unchanged: the locks are John van der Giessen and Hayden Smith, with flankers Louis Stanfill, Clever and eight man Nic Johnson.
Chris Wyles is the only backline change, coming off an ankle injury, and is ready to return to the number 15 position. Wyles replaces Blaine Scully, who moves to bench after an impressive international rugby foray. The wings are Takudzwa Ngwenya and James Paterson, the center combination will remain unchanged with Paul Emerick and Andrew Suniula, and the halfbacks are flyhalf Roland Suniula and scrumhalf Mike Petri.
The reserve bench includes four forwards and three backs. Phil Thiel (hooker), Shawn Pittman (prop), Scott LaValla (lock) Pat Danahy (loose forward) are the forward replacements. In the backs the reserves are Tim Usasz (scrumhalf), Nese Malifa (flyhalf) and Blaine Scully (fullback).
15 Chris Wyles (Saracens)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz)
13 Paul Emerick (Life University)
12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
11 James Paterson (Highlanders)
10 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
9 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)
1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie)
2 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)
3 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93)
4 John van der Giessen (Unattached)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)
6 Louis Stanfill (Unattached)
7 Todd Clever (Suntory Sungoliath) *Captain
8 Nic Johnson (Unattached)
16 Phil Thiel (Life University)
17 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
18 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
19 Pat Danahy (Life University)
20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC)
21 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
22 Blaine Scully (Unattached)
15 Igor Klyuchnikov
14 Vladimir Ostroushko
13 Konstantin Rachkov
12 Alexey Makovetskiy
11 Vasily Artemyev
10 Yury Kushnarev
9 Alexander Shakirov
1 Sergey Popov
2 Vladislav Korshunov *Captain
3 Ivan Prishchepenko
4 Alexander Voytov
5 Denis Antonov
6 Andrey Garbuzov
7 Artem Fatakhov
8 Vyacheslav Grachev
16 Valery Tsnobiladze
17 Alexander Khrokin
18 Vladmimir Botvinnikov
19 Adam Byrnes
20 Victor Gresev
21 Alexander Yanyushkin
22 Andrey Kuzin