USA Rugby Announces June International Team

USA Rugby recently announced the National Men’s 15s team who will face off with Canada, Georgia and Italy later this month. As expected, 2011 Rugby World Cup flanker and team USA captain Todd Clever is returning to captain the side, while Paul Emerick returns from a stint with the Aviva Premiership team London Wasps to help anchor the backline.

Interestingly, the Eagles coaching staff have added three names from America’s top college teams: Army’s Will Holder, Seamus Kelly from 8-zillion-time Collegiate Champions Cal Berkeley, and BYU’s Shaun Davies.  Adding three college players to the national team is something that team USA hasn’t done in quite a while.

Rounding out the rookie ranks of the squad is 6-2, 317-pound prop Tolifili Liufau. The Hawaiian born Liufau played football for the University of Utah, Rio Grande Valley Dorados and Arizona Rattlers (Arena League) before switching to the greatest game, where he currently plays for l’Uson in France’s Fédérale 1 – France’s top amateur level.

See the complete team selections on USA Rugby’s site.

(And a side note to USA Rugby – there has to be an easier way to link to stories on your site.)

Is This Team USA’s Year?

To do what, one asks?

To go all the way and win the Rugby World Cup, the deluded fan responds.

Well then. In that case:

No.

I love USA Rugby, I’d love nothing more than to see the Eagles captain hoist the William Webb Ellis trophy high before the vanquished. But there is no way in hell that’s going to happen in my lifetime – and since I have plans to live to be 150, that’s going to be a long time.

So no RWC championships for the US, but take heart Eagles fans – this could be the year the U.S. racks up a couple of wins in pool play, and might even squeak by with a World Cup 2015 prequalification slot (with a whole lot of luck!) I don’t see them making it into the quarters or beyond.

The Eagles are in pool C, which I don’t know if you can qualify as the “Pool of Death” or not, but you have Australia, Ireland, Italy, Russia and the U.S. in this pool.  The U.S. beat Russia 39-22 in the recent Churchill Cup Tournament in the U.S., so we can probably look for a victory here. Australia is going to beat the U.S. like a brothel with back payments to the head pimp, and Ireland probably will as well, though by not as much.

The key match for the U.S. will be on Sept. 27, 2011 against Italy.  Italy is a growing rugby power in Europe – having competed for many years in the Six Nations tournament, facing off with Scotland, Wales, France, Ireland and England on a yearly basis.  However, they are also considered the lightweight team of the tournament, usually only racking up a win or two.  It would take some work, and some strong luck, but I think the U.S. might be able to pick off the Italians in 2011 and land a solid third place in pool play.

Third place won’t move the team on to the next round, but it will be a step up for a USA team that plays with a lot of pride, and has always set the bar at a realistic “We want to win a match in pool play” goal.