U.S. All-Stars in Wellington in 1910

For those who think American Rugby is in its infancy, consider this: 100 years ago a team of Collegiate All-Americans toured Australia and New Zealand. Considering how hard it was to get here back then, that’s a somewhat epic tour.

1910 All-Americans tour of Australia and NZ. USA Rugby.

1910 All-Americans tour of Australia and NZ. Photo credit: USA Rugby.

Wanting to make the long journey worthwhile, the 1910 side played more than 20 matches against competition such as a New South Wales representative side, an Auckland representative side, and the first-ever all Maori rugby team which was established only a year before the All-Americans.

Read more of this post

A Try to Remember

While the Eagles did not win a game at the last World Cup, hosted by France in 2007, they did win the war of the highlight reel and unearthed a superstar, someone spoken of with respect in New Zealand Rugby circles: Takudzwa Ngwenya.

Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, Ngwenya moved to Plano, Texas, when he was in High School and quickly moved up the ranks of Rugby there, eventually making the Eagles U-19 team.

The 2007 World Cup draw did not do the Americans any favors. They found themselves in a Pool with defending World Champions, England, and the eventual 2007 Cup winners, South Africa, as well as Tonga and Samoa, who are not to be sniffed at in the Rugby world. While they lost every game, they played well, especially against the teams not called South Africa.

During the course of a pretty sound drubbing at the hands of the Springboks, though, the Americans intercepted the ball just about at their own tryline and moved it quickly upfield in a lightning counterattack. A long pass was received by Ngwenya and he took off. He had just one man to beat. Unfortunately, that man was Bryan Habana, then widely accepted as the fastest winger in the world.

Not that day, he wasn’t.  Ngwenya left him in the dust.  Ran around him.  Smoked him.  And scored under the posts.

While the try didn’t have any impact on the result, it was voted as “The try of the tournament,” and has gone down in Rugby lore.  As it should.  It was a gem.

You can watch it here:

Ngwenya plays professionally for Biarritz in France and is expected to make a return to the World Cup in 2011.

Georgia Edges Out Eagles in Final Seconds

Georgia Edges Out Eagles in Final Seconds 19-17. Click through for image source.

Georgia Edges Out Eagles in Final Seconds 19-17. Photo credit usarugby.org.

TBLISI, Georgia – The Eagles narrowly missed out on a sweep of their 2010 test matches in a nail-biter against Georgia.  It was a physical and close encounter between the USA and hosts Georgia, with a vibrant crowd of 35,000 packed into National Stadium in Tbilisi.  The Eagles looked like they would stave off Georgia, but a last minute Georgian try and conversion pulled the home team ahead with a final score of 17-19.

Eagles Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan knew that the American defense was solid and physical.  Against Georgia, the Eagles employed an all out tactical blitz.  O’Sullivan’s Eagles kept the Georgians guessing in all aspects of the game, especially on attack.

A versatile group of loose forwards, Todd Clever, Inaki Basauri, and Louis Stanfill, popped around the scrums and line outs, never letting the Georgians get a good read on the American set-piece.  The American pack would keep the Georgians off-rhythm at line outs as well and were dictating pace in all aspects of forward play.

Read more of this post