ARC Preview – USA

usa-todd-clever-eric-fry-2014

Story Source : http://www.americasrugbynews.com/

This coming weekend the USA Eagles launch their Americas Rugby Championship campaign in Houston against Argentina. The new competition is just the start of the next World Cup cycle and what is expected to be a season of change for the Eagles.

First on the list is the debut of new head coach John Mitchell. Having just set foot in America, Mitchell is now tasked with bringing along a USA side that has been burdened with the ‘potential’ mantle for some time. Mitchell named a side mixed with veterans that are only available for a few tests and up and coming Eagles. Even with some youth and inexperience in the squad, Mitchell’s charges will be expected to produce results against the likes of Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.

2015 FORM

The Eagles are coming off five straight test match losses and six total if you count their pre-World Cup friendly loss to Harlequins. Before the skid it was a solid start to the year, going 2-2 in the Pacific Nations Cup with wins over Japan and Canada. Another victory over Canada – their third in a row – in Ottawa followed the PNC and gave them some momentum heading into their final preparations.

After the disappointing loss to Harlequins, the USA fell to Australia in at Soldier Field in Chicago. The match against the Wallabies was a sign of things to come as the USA battled hard in the first half, but fell apart in the second.

The World Cup opened with a loss to Samoa in what was their best chance at victory. They followed with an incomplete performance against Scotland and then were blasted by South Africa. The Eagles finished their campaign with a lackluster loss to Japan, finishing the year with a 3-7 record in tests.

POST-RWC 2015

In the wake of the disappointing World Cup results, USA Rugby sought to make changes. They started with opening up the search for a new head coach which ultimately ended up with the hiring of Mitchell. Next was a near cleaning of house of the support staff for the Eagles, with three former professional players adding their expertise and subsequently naming of a surprisingly solid roster for the ARC.

The biggest news was the return of former skipper Todd Clever to the squad after he was sacked by now-departed Mike Tolkin prior to the PNC. In one door came Clever, and out the other goes Chris Wyles, who has called it a day at test level and is joined by a handful of other regulars, including flanker Scott LaValla and scrumhalf Mike Petri. Others have seemingly been discarded and all of a sudden there is a very different feel to the team.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

There’s no question who the stars in the side are, but the professionals who are available will only be around for a game or two. After that, it’s up to some new names to make things happen.

Hefty prop Joe Taufete’e was a shock inclusion in the World Cup squad but showed that he is surprisingly light on his feet for such a large body. He should get a chance to start at tighthead at some point and possibly throw his name into the mix for a regular role in the team. His new Belmont Shore teammateMike Sosene-Feagai (real first name Michelangelo) is a former Samoa u20 cap who is set to compete with USA u20 standout Cameron Falcon for the vacant hooker role.

The second-most colorfully named character in the team is athletic loose forward Aladdin Schirmer. Born in Seattle to American Samoan parents, the Central Washington standout is already on the watch list of Eagles 7s coach Mike Friday as someone with big potential. Possibly even more hyped is 19-year-old flanker Hanco Germishuys, a South African-born dynamo who has just returned from a season with Gloucester Academy.

Everybody knows Mike Te’o has talent, the question is where does he fit in the team? He’s moved from hooker to scrumhalf to centre and is also a versatile sevens player. He’s joined by former u20 teammateKingsley McGowan, a wing with searing pace who has lately found himself playing in the midfield and even flyhalf for Trinity College in Dublin.

VERDICT

The Eagles come in ranked as the second seed in the tournament but with a few big guns and a home match to start against Argentina, they could very conceivably kick things off with an upset win. That said they could just as easily fall to Uruguay in Montevideo with a significantly less experienced traveling team. A full-on battle against Canada in Austin will likely be the match that determines whether or not the tournament is a success.

FIXTURES

Feb 6 vs Argentina Houston 20:00 EST, 19:00 CST
Feb 13 vs Canada Austin 19:00 EST, 18:00 CST
Feb 20 vs Chile Fort Lauderdale 18:00 EST, 20:00 Chile
Feb 27 vs Brazil São Paulo 12:00 EST, 14:00 Brasilia
Mar 5 vs Uruguay Montevideo 16:00 EST, 18:00 UYT

SQUAD

NAME POS HGT WGT DOB CAPS CLUB
Baumann, Chris PR 1.88
6-2
122
270
May 18
1987
7 Austin Blacks
Beach, Demecus PR 1.89
6-2
120
265
Dec 28
1987
0 Life University
Fry, Eric PR 1.93
6-4
119
260
Sep 14
1987
36 Newcastle Falcons (UK)
Kilifi, Olive PR 1.80
5-11
124
275
Sep 18
1986
15 Seattle Saracens
Taufete’e, Joe PR 1.84
6-0
128
280
Apr 10
1992
1 Belmont Shore
Falcon, Cameron HO 1.82
6-0
107
235
Aug 18
1993
0 New Orleans
Hilterbrand, James HO 1.84
6-0
112
245
May 21
1989
0 North Harbour Rays (AU)
Sosene-Feagai, Mike HO 1.85
6-1
105
230
Apr 17
1993
0 Belmont Shore
Dolan, Cameron LO/N8 1.98
6-6
113
250
Mar 7
1990
20 Cardiff Blues (UK)
Landry, Ben LO 1.96
6-5
116
255
Mar 26
1991
0 Seattle Saracens
Orth, Brodie LO 2.01
6-7
118
260
1982 0 Kansas City Blues
Peterson, Greg LO 2.04
6-8
123
270
Mar 26
1991
11 Glasgow Warriors (UK)
Tameilau, David LO 1.94
6-4
128
280
Jan 22
1990
0 Life West
Blair, Pat FL 1.87
6-2
102
225
Jan 27
1990
0 Seattle Saracens
Germishuys, Hanco FL 1.86
6-1
102
225
Aug 24
1996
0 Glendale Raptors
Gletzer, Alec FL 1.85
6-1
103
225
Oct 10
1991
0 Olympic
Thomas, Bruce FL 1.83
6-0
100
220
Jun 8
1987
0 S.F.G.G.
Clever, Todd N8/FL 1.93
6-4
103
225
Jan 16
1983
63 Newcastle Falcons (UK)
Schirmer, Aladdin N8/FL 1.90
6-3
102
225
Dec 13
1992
0 Central Washington
Bliss, Tom SH 1.79
5-10
90
200
Mar 12
1993
0 Ealing Trailfinders (UK)
Kruger, Niku SH 1.72
5-8
80
175
Oct 9
1991
2 Glendale Raptors
Bird, James FH 1.78
5-10
93
205
Jan 14
1989
0 Old Blue
Eloff, J.P. FH 1.78
5-10
84
185
May 28
1991
0 Chicago Lions
Filikitonga, Lemoto CE 1.85
6-1
111
245
May 25
1993
0 Metropolis
Garrity, Mike CE 1.88
6-2
102
225
Jan 11
1989
0 Seattle Saracens
London, Chad CE 1.85
6-1
101
220
Sep 27
1988
1 Glendale Raptors
Te’o, Mike CE/SH 1.72
5-8
93
205
Jul 23
1993
0 Belmont Shore
Hume, Luke WI 1.75
5-9
87
190
Feb 1
1988
17 Old Blue
Matyas, Ryan WI/FB 1.83
6-0
86
190
Dec 24
1990
0 Old Blue
McGowan, Kingsley WI/CE 1.76
5-9
88
195
Dec 18
1992
0 Trinity College (IR)
Ngwenya, Takudzwa WI 1.78
5-10
86
190
Jul 22
1985
35 Biarritz (FR)
Stanfill, Tim WI 1.78
5-10
85
185
Apr 7
1989
4 Seattle Saracens
Anderson, Jake FB/FH 1.88
6-2
95
210
Jan 22
1992
0 Olympic
Edwards, Jake FB/WI 1.87
6-2
98
215
Feb 24
1984
0 N.Y.A.C.
Scully, Blaine FB/WI 1.90
6-3
100
220
Feb 29
1988
29 Cardiff Blues (UK)

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