Are The USA Eagles Ready to Take on the World?

All 20 nations have now announced their squads for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in England with excitement building towards the tournament opener, between England and Fiji on the 18th September. The USA Eagles will not open their tournament until the 20th September against Samoa under the lights of the Brighton Community Stadium on the south coast of England. Here we analyse the chosen 31, highlighting the key players and assessing if the USA Eagles are ready to take on the world.

A squad featuring highly rated domestic promise with a sprinkling of professionalism including 13 overseas registered players has been selected by head coach, Mike Tolkin. Chris Wyles will continue to hold the responsibility as Captain alongside Vice Captain, Blaine Scully. Two consummate professionals who will bring an air of confidence and professionalism to the entire squad. Wyles is fresh from helping Saracens to the Aviva Premiership last season and will look to continue his own personal performance to guide the Eagles to an improved Rugby World Cup performance. As a leadership unit they will be hoping to excel in a tough World Cup pool.
Elsewhere in the squad, the stand out name that will bring hope to any Eagles fan will be that of Samu Manoa. After completing a recent move to the south of France to join Toulon from Northampton, he will now be looking to make his mark at the World Cup. On debut at the Rugby World Cup will add extra pressure to the magnificent back rowers game but his performances in the Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup has shown he has the necessary qualities to overcome this and excel at this level of competition.

One man that you should be watching this tournament is AJ MacGinty. Currently plying his trade domestically for Life Rugby it is surely only a matter of time before he at least has offers on his desk for professional clubs. Throughout the summer he has been the spark in victories over Canada and Japan as well as sparkling throughout narrow loses to Samoa and Tonga. In MacGinty the Eagles have found the man to keep the scoreboard ticking over with an assured boot from the tee. Despite the athleticism and sheer power of the players throughout the squad without a composed and assured fly half the US will struggle. It is, therefore, imperative that he brings his A-game across the Atlantic.

The recent success of the USA Men’s Sevens has seen five members included on the plane to the England. Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, Folau Niua, Zack Test and Brett Thompson will be aiming to add their experience of winning the Twickenham World Rugby 7’s series to bolster the winning mentality of the squad. Zack Test is the man who stands out above his fellow 7’s players due to his impressive try scoring record, currently he is the record try scorer for the US in 7’s. It remains to be seen whether this level of finishing skills can be transferred to the test arena of a Rugby World Cup.

Are the USA Eagles ready to take on the world? Maybe, but it will be a tall order for them to come away from this World Cup with more than 2 wins. Samoa and Japan will be tough but achievable victories but it is only with hope that fans can look to Scotland and South Africa. With a mix of youth and experience this Rugby World Cup will at least be a building block for rugby in the USA.

Full Mens Eagles Squad- Rugby World Cup 2015 (Alphabetical order):
Danny Barrett (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Chris Baumann (Santa Monica RC), Cameron Dolan (Cardiff Blues, Wales), Andrew Durutalo (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Zach Fenoglio (Glendale Raptors RFC), Eric Fry (Newcastle Falcons, England), Seamus Kelly (San Francisco Golden Gate RFC), Olive Kilifi (Seattle Saracens RC), Niku Kruger (Glendale Raptors RFC), Titi Lamositele (Saracens FC, England), Scott LaValla (Stade Francais CASG, France), AJ MacGinty (Life Rugby), Samu Manoa (RC Toulonnais, France), Al McFarland (NYAC), Matekitonga Moeakiola (Castenet, France), Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz Olympique, France), Folau Niua (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Thretton Palamo (London Welsh RFC, England), Greg Peterson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Mike Petri (NYAC), John Quill (NYAC), Blaine Scully (Vice Captain) (Cardiff Blues, Wales), Hayden Smith (Saracens FC, England), Louis Stanfill (Seattle Saracens RC), Andrew Suniula (CSM Bucuresti, Romania), Shalom Suniula (Seattle Saracens RC), Joseph Taufete’e (Belmont Shore RFC), Zack Test (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Phil Thiel (Life Rugby), Brett Thompson (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Chris Wyles (Captain) (Saracens FC, England)

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