USA Rugby World Cup campaign a chance to make a statement

USA Rugby World Cup in Japan a chance to make a statement
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 03: Ryan Matyas (11) of USA celebrates with teammates after scoring a try in action during the Rugby Weekend match between the New Zealand Maori All Blacks and the USA Eagles on November 3, 2018 at Soldier Field, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The USA is arguably the most improved side during this four-year cycle. This is an ominous sign for other nations, as the USA Rugby World Cup campaign is showing how seriously the nation is now taking the sport.

However, the USA finds itself in one of the toughest pools imaginable. Drawn against England, France, Argentina, and Tonga, the Americans find themselves to a rough spot.

Continuing the tier two series David Challis will assess the USA’s chances and what will be their keys to performing in Japan at the Rugby World Cup.

USA Rugby World Cup history

The USA does not have a particularly rich Rugby World Cup history. The side has been a feature at all bar one of the eight World Cups but has only chalked up two victories. Most recently in 2015 they failed to win at all and slumped to the bottom of their pool.

However as we have seen with the likes of Namibia, the USA’s results are getting closer. During the 1990s and 2000s, the United States would regularly ship 40+ points a game and score rarely. However, in 2015 they played close games against Japan as well as Samoa, and competed well against Scotland.

Coaching appointments include the current leader, Gary Gold. His experience, and that of many of the senior players – including 50 test-cap skipper, Blaine Scully.

That has made an affect on the team’s style, confidence, and their intent ahead of this USA Rugby World Cup campaign.

Greatest Rugby World Cup Moment

A bright spot in the USA’s World Cup history was their 2003 experience. Here they played out won of their three wins with a comfortable performance over Japan. They also came agonizingly close to a victory of Fiji, ending just short in an 18-19 defeat. This success was in no small part down to the work of metronomic fly-half Mike Hercus who pitched in with 51 points across the tournament.

USA’s form in the Rugby World Cup Cycle

The past four years have been something of a renaissance for American Rugby. They have taken great strides forward and their results have demonstrated this. The most notable of these was their 29-30 victory over Scotland in 2018.

They have also been very successful in the Pacific Nations Cup finishing third this year with wins over Canada and Samoa. This general upturn in form shows that the USA is going to be a real force to be reckoned with in Japan.

The nation has just announced the USA Rugby World Cup squad, with talent taken from both XV’s and Sevens. Many of the current squad, could ‘light up’ the Cup in 2019.

Team USA – three players to watch

AJ MacGinty
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MacGinty is something that most tier two nations do not have. An experienced and classy fly-half. Playing the Premiership MacGinty has developed the ability to control a game and drive his team around the field. Something which will be invaluable during the World Cup.

Joe Taufete’e

Taufete’e is an ex-American Football player making the switch across in 2011. He possesses insane amounts of raw power and currently holds the record for the most amount of international tries by a hooker. Expect Taufete’e to ruffle more than a few feathers in Japan.

Titi Lamositele

Another American Playing in the UK, Lamositele has made his name for Saracens over the last two years. He is another individual that possesses great size and power and as such he has pushed out more established names during his time at the London club demonstrating how important he will be for this USA side at the Rugby World Cup.

How will the USA fair in the Pool C?

There is no way of dressing it up nicely for the USA. Their pool is going to be a serious struggle. Against England, France and Argentina they realistically do not have a shot at an upset. However, if they can continue their upturn in form they could have some competitive games which could make a statement to the Rugby world.

Unfortunately, their whole tournament essentially rides on the game against Tonga. Both sides are gargantuan in size, so this one could be a destructive encounter. The USA probably just shades this one but, it is going to be close.

What’s next for the United States Rugby?

As was mention when we discussed the fortunes of Canada, the introduction of Major League Rugby (MLR) has allowed for a greatly improved player pathway in America. Alongside this, a greater number of players are securing contracts with big clubs in Europe or elsewhere around the world. 12 of the USA squad have done this. As a result, the greater professional experience compared to previous World Cups should bear its fruits in Japan.

The major issue rugby faces in the USA is the incredibly crowded sporting market. It is an obvious point to make but an important one. Although strides are being made to grow rugby, it still has a long way to go before it can have a truly nationwide reach in the USA.

However, rugby is definitely on the up in the USA. If they can continue this trajectory we could be seeing a new superpower on the rise and the big boys of international rugby should be worried.

 

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