Feast with the Eagles – a competition

Feast with the Eagles.

As most of you are aware, there’s a small Rugby tournament coming to New Zealand later this year. It is the Rugby World Cup 2011 and will be by far the largest event this country has ever hosted.

The USA Eagles have qualified for the tournament and will be in New Plymouth, Wellington and Nelson. The team will be in Wellington before their big game against Australia on Sept. 23.

The U.S. Ambassador, David Huebner, has invited the team for dinner – and two of our lucky readers will be able to join them for what is sure to be a tremendous evening.

To see who gets to join the ambassador and the Eagles, we’re running a small competition. All you have to do is come up with a winning caption to our photo, by clicking here and then wait. We’ll announce the winner(s) on July 30. The only requirement, obviously, is that you are in or can bring yourself to Wellington on Sept. 21.

So, be creative and get writing. There are no limits to the amount of entries you submit. Just make them good and keep them clean.

Stanford talks RWC, Planking, website

Our Kyle Jones sits down with Dallen Stanford, the RWC Media Manager for the USA Eagles, to have a little catch-up about recent games and to look forward to Rugby World Cup 2011.

For Napier Boys, a trip of a lifetime to U.S.

Napier Boys High School

Napier Boys High School

Last year, Napier Boys High School embarked on a 3-week Rugby tour of North America. Part of that tour included travelling to Northern California and playing High School, Club U20 and Academy- age group U20 teams. Their coach, Billy TeHiko, tells us their stories.

Here’s a Kiwi’s view of the Americans we met and the rugby teams we played against.  First, by way of introduction, my name is Billy Te Hiko, a volunteer parent coach who fell into coaching 15 years ago.

Napier Boys High School is a public school with boarding facilities in Napier, a city in the Province of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand and was established in 1872. Napier is famous for its vineyards and art deco buildings,  which rose from the ashes during the re-build after the 1931 Napier earthquake. It has a school roll of 1,200 boys, of which 600 play rugby. 

This trip involved 30 players (ages 15-17) from throughout the playing grades of the school and 11 support staff and parents.

We came to America from Vancouver. After checking into our hotel, we arrived at Stanford University very late for our first U.S. game, looking for clues as to where we might be playing. After 10 minutes of driving around campus, one of the boys said, “Just look for the rugby posts.”  We looked at each other and laughed and promptly found the ground. We decided that that boy was going to go far. We told him he’d get an extra sip of water at halftime for his initiative. Sometimes adults over-complicate the simplest things.

The Napier boys went through their warm-up on the Stanford field.It’s like billiard table to play on. We’re already envious.  With the warm-up completed the captains did the coin toss and the boys moved to halfway to do our school Haka.

East Palo Alto and Napier Boys

East Palo Alto and Napier Boys

Having issued the challenge through our Haka to the opposition, the Napier boys looked a bit perplexed when they saw the opposition was made up entirely of Samoan and Tongan players whose families have immigrated to the USA and have a strong community presence in East Palo Alto. One of the Napier supporters said, “This is just like home.” Read more of this post

The Eagles World Cup squad is named

Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has released his preliminary 50-man squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.

“With the World Cup less than three months away we have put together an extended pool of players from which the final Eagles Squad of 30 players will emerge,” said O’Sullivan.

The names were submitted to the International Rugby Board as part of a requirement of Rugby World Cup planning. Each rugby union will then select their final squad of 30 players by the August 22 deadline.

O’Sullivan has had an opportunity to watch half of this squad in the recent Churchill Cup competition. Several players certainly impressed in the 32-25 victory over Russia, putting up their hands for RWC inclusion.

“The players who made the Churchill Cup Squad have the advantage of having been in camp together for the past three weeks,” said O’Sullivan, “But there are players who missed the Churchill Cup for various reasons.

With a busy July of fitness training ahead and three warm-up games in August, there will be plenty of opportunities for players to impress before we select the final RWC Squad near the end of August.”

The preliminary squad consists of 26 forwards and 24 backline players.

The Eagles will next assemble at the end of July, before taking on Canada on August 6 (BMO Field, Toronto, Canada) and August 13 (Infinity Park, Glendale, Colo.). The USA will then travel to Tokyo to play against Japan on August 21. Read more of this post

New Plymouth: A home away from home for the Eagles

An occasional series about the sights and sounds the U.S. Eagles and their fans will see during Rugby World Cup 2011.

New Plymouth, in the region of Taranaki, will be where the U.S. Eagles’ spend the largest chunk of their time in New Zealand. There, in the wonderful Yarrow Stadium that was named the third best Rugby stadium on earth, the Eagles will face Ireland, on Sept. 11, and Russia, on Sept. 15.

The stadium, to be known as Stadium Taranaki for RWC 2011, has a capacity of 25,000. On a clear day, Mt. Taranaki, the volcano that was spectacularly featured in “The Last Samurai,” looms in the distance. Snow-covered for much of the year, Mt. Taranaki is an awe-inspiring sight.

New Plymouth, perched on the western side of the North Island, has a population of a little more than 50,000, and is a friendly and picturesque town about a 4 1/2-hour drive from Wellington. The area is largely agricultural, but has a large energy sector presence built around oil and natural gas.

New Plymouth is very excited about playing host to RWC and is advanced in its preparations. The main, oceanfront, drag will be home to an International Village as well as a fan zone and some of the downtown streets will be closed off during games to allow fans more room to celebrate.

While New Plymouth is a little isolated, there is a lot to do in the town. At its heart lies Pukekura Park, the regal and peaceful botanic gardens. At more than a hundred acres, there are miles and miles of wonderful running paths and exotic plants to be seen.

There are plenty of fine restaurants and good watering holes and night life will not be a problem during the RWC. If running is your game, the Coastal Walkway along the Tasman Sea has a perfect 10k pathway. New Plymouth is also known for its Wind Wand, pictured at right. It not only gauges the strength of the wind, but has confused many a newcomer with its eerie red glow at night.

Mt. Taranaki offers a lot of outdoor recreation, from skiing and snowboarding to rock climbing and spectacular alpine walks. The main visitors’ center is just 20 minutes out of New Plymouth.

Numerous events are being planned around the U.S. presence in New Plymouth. We’ll update them on this page as they become finalized. In the meantime, if you’re going to make it over here for RWC, you most certainly will enjoy your time in New Plymouth. It’s a well-kept secret.

- Adrian Pratt, U.S. Embassy Wellington

Clever Game: Eagles With The Win

Ian Muir Photo

This was a highly anticipated game. This was the match to watch as a preview for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. USA Wins it!  32-25 win over Russia! Try Time coming from Paul Emerick, Andrew Suniula, Todd Clever, and Tai Enosa.  Man of the Match: Nese Malifa.

Clever showed up as a true captain in this match, providing key tackles and capitalizing on a missed pass by Russia for a daring try! This is was exactly the type of leadership that the Eagles were looking for. Meanwhile, Nese Malifa provided a glorious foot and supplied key passes throughout the match. Great team work from all of the boys. Cal Golden Bears Alumni in full force out on the pitch today as well: Louis Stanfill, Chris Biller, Blaine Scully. Hawley & Fry.

 The Eagles look to hold a huge psychological advantage over Russia going into the world cup, winning the last 3 matches against them including this match at The Churchill Cup.

For the full recap: Click Here!

Highlights Below:

Who Wants It More?

Churchill Cup Finals

USA Vs. Russia

June 18, 2011

LIVE 7:00 am ET


Twitter: @usrugbynz for Live Updates

Eagles ready for Russia

By Jarrod Beckstrom, USA Rugby

WORCESTER, England – Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has made four changes to his starting team ahead of Saturday’s important clash with Russia at Sixways Stadium.

The USA v. Russia match will kick off at 7:00 a.m. ET on June 18 and will be broadcast live online at www.universalsports.com and on tape delay on Universal Sports at 12 p.m. ET. Both the USA and Russia know there is more to this match than meets the eye, as the next time these two teams will see each other will be on September 15 on the world’s biggest stage, the Rugby World Cup.

The last time these two countries faced off in June of 2010, the Eagles ran out 39-22 winners. The Eagles will, however, be without veteran fullback Chris Wyles (Saracens) and wing Taku Ngwenya (Biarritz), who both scored tries in that victory, and also Hayden Smith (Saracens), Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate) and Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie).

The Eagles will be looking for more consistency in their play, with many of the combinations tested last week having another opportunity to work together. Read more of this post

Salty: U.S. rugby is on the move

Guinness or Genius? Well, maybe. Rugby veteran and international player? Yes. U.S. Eagles Coach with years of experience? Yes. A healthy appetite for a few pints of Guinness? Most Definitely!

Click For Bio

USRUGBYNZ.com catches up with Salty Thompson,       U.S. All-American High School coach, fresh from a weekend of recruiting and recent return from the Collegiate Rugby Cup in Philadelphia.

USRUGBYNZ.com: From the reactions we got, the Sevens tournament was a huge success all across the board. Its coverage dwarfed the USA Eagles game that week in England. Quite amazing! Why do you think it got so much attention? Will it have an effect on Olympic 7′s?

Salty: The Sevens on NBC was a big deal. NBC as the Olympic network really promoted the Olympic inclusion in 2016. Their production is first class and they’ve really helped get the game some profile. Average people are seeing 7s and talking about it.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Will this increase attention for U.S. Rugby in a public sense and are you seeing growth in rugby as whole across the states?

Salty: I just came back from recruiting the Midwest Age Grade Select tournaments (the best high school players representing Illinois, Indiana, Iowa). The growth in high school rugby is phenomenal across the country. This coming weekend we have selectors at All Star playoffs in Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle (central Washington). We use these events to select for the USA High School All American camps and eventual games.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Not sure if you’ve been following the Eagles at the Churchill Cup this past week, suffering grueling defeats from both England Saxons and Tonga. As an international player and Eagles coach on many levels, any comments on their play? Things they are or aren’t doing?

Salty: The Eagles have struggled in the Churchill Cup. The gap between domestic and international competition is huge at all levels. We are comparable in our world rankings at both, age and grade, u20s and senior Eagles. Countries put a huge emphasis on playing internationals while we are often held back by a number of factors.

USRUGBYNZ.com: Is this a preview for the World Cup? They are scheduled to play Russia this weekend, any predictions? What do they need to work on before this game? This game is getting a lot of hype and is a precursor for their World Cup match-up, what would be your game plan coming into this match?

Salty: You can watch the USA u20s v Russia at www.irb.com. This was a close loss to Russia in Georgia at the World Trophy. I expect a similar close contest between the Eagles and the Russian men. Russia has made significant progress in 7s recently where we still have a better pedigree. They are attracting better athletes, as we are. I coached against them in 2007 in the World Juniors and we won 6-0 with a good team captained by Scott Lavalla and Shawn Pittman, current Eagles (player) Zack Test was also on that team. Should be an interesting game!

USRUGBYNZ.com: Cheers Salty! And the Eagles will meet the Russian Bear in the Bowl final of the Churchill Cup on Saturday, June 18, in England. Check our Twitter feed @usrugbynz for updates of the game and www.universalsports.com as well for paid coverage. Here is a little refresher of last year’s match up:

USA-Russia – prequel to the showdown

In a dress rehearsal for the highly anticipated USA-Russia Rugby World Cup game on Sept. 15, the Eagles will meet the Russian Bear in the Bowl final of the Churchill Cup on Saturday, June 18, in England.

The Russians came back ferociously against Italy A over the weekend, but lost 24-19. That meant the Russians, like the U.S., have yet to win a game in the Churchill Cup. Both teams are focusing intensely on their New Plymouth clash during the RWC, as both believe it is a contest they can win. For a game that looked innocuous to Kiwi schedulers a while back, this clash is taking on a bit of hype and should be a fiercely contested match.

The USA Eagles put a bit of a hurting on the Russians in last year’s Churchill Cup contest, winning 39-22, but the Russians have been training hard and are focusing on the RWC as a way to highlight and promote their sport back home and to the world.