Where might you find the Gonzo Rugby Report this year?

I’ve just been looking over the domestic rugby schedule for the next year, en route to a hopeful 2011 Rugby World Cup media appearance, and in addition to blogging about the international rugby scene I want to attend a few tournaments as writing warm ups.  Among them are:

2010 High Desert Rugby Classic – October 16-17, Albuquerque, N.M. (A southwest classic!)

2011 USA Sevens International Tournament – February 12-13, Las Vegas, Nev.

2011 Churchill Cup – Summer 2011, Denver, Colo.

And other matches to be determined.

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.