USA remains “team of the future” forever

Baboon on rock

In my last post, I had some of the numbers wrong (since fixed) but not the conclusion: Japan goes to the quarterfinals if the Scotland game is played and they win. They did, 28-21.

Scotland opened the scoring with their fly half running through Japan’s defense and it looked like the usual suspects would end up emerging from pool play. But then Japan put on a wonderful show of offloading the ball to open runners, going into half with a 21-7 lead. They added another try and conversion early in the second half before Scotland found its footing and scored two more tries and conversions. Japan held on for the win.

Speaking of mistakes, the USA Eagles made plenty last night in their loss to the Tonga “Ikale Tahi” (Sea Eagles), losing 31-19. The United States led at half 12-7, but fumbled away the ball on offense and could not stop Tonga’s well supported running. Nice to see Seattle’s own Olive Kilifi starting some of the USA’s scoring.

So the USA Eagles, often referred to as the team that will someday become one of the usual suspects in the post-pool play World Cup, didn’t win any of their four games. They were in the “Pool of Death” against England, France, Argentina and Tonga. I thought they had a chance against Argentina and Tonga. Not so. Maybe in four more years. Or maybe forever.

I found another baboon photo to post. It seemed appropriate as I am correcting a mistake I made yesterday, only one of two mistakes I think I have corrected in four years of this blog. I try to be transparent here, letting all hang out, as this baboon is doing.

Another rugby all-nighter, but only 2 games

Getting ready for another rugby all nighter with Canada playing Italy, starting at 12:45 a.m., and then the United States taking on England at 3:45 a.m. I should be a champ at Pilates at 10 a.m.

I hope Canada remembers how close they came to beating Italy at the Rugby World Cup in 2015. They were behind 13-10 at half but regained the lead with a try. Italy came back with another try, 20-15. Canada added a penalty kick, 20-18, and Italy finished with another penalty to win 23-18. I thought Canada could have, should have.

Maybe having four members on the Canadian team who played for the Seattle Seawolves in the Major League Rugby will help them to a win. Jeff Hassler is starting at wing, and in reserves are two props, Djustice Sears-Duru and Jake Ilnicki, and the Seawolves scrum half and coach, Phil Mack.

Oli
Olive Kilifi at 2015 RWC

The only Seawolves on the United States Eagles is Olive Kilifi, who was also on the team in 2015. Another Pacific Northwesterner is Titi Lamositele, 24, born in Bellingham and an athlete at Sehome High School. He now plays for the London Saracens in the Premiership League there.

If the Eagles beat England this morning, it might knock Trump’s impeachment troubles off the front page (if I were the news editor). ESPN had a good article on the USA chances, noting that the professional league has brought more fit players into camp. The Eagles are in the “Pool of Death,” with England, France, Argentina and Tonga ranked above them. Tonga might be their best bet for a RWC victory in 2019.

Titi
Tit Lamositele at 2015 RWC

One surprise already in the 2019 RWC: Uruguay beat Fiji last night, 30-27. Wales and Australia also have wins in that pool. Can Uruguay beat either one? Georgia, also in the pool, fell 43-14 against Wales. Los Teros also have several team members who played in the Major League Rugby. Maybe that made the difference over Fiji. With several MLR players for the USA, will it make a difference against England?

Four Seattle Saracens to start for U.S. against South Africa

Four Seattle Saracen rugby players will play for the United States against South Africa in Wednesday’s Rugby World Cup game in London.

Matt Trouville
Matt Trouville
Louis Stanfill
Louis Stanfill

Louis Stanfill and Matt Trouville, who play second row for the Saracens, will take those positions for the United States Eagles, who are looking for their first win in the international tournament. Stanfill and Trouville make their first tournament start in the game at The Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Olive Kilifi will also play in the forwards while Shalom Suniula  will be in the backs.

Suniula, at stand-off, will pair with Niku Kruger at scrum half.

“Niku and Shalom are a dynamic pair who have been playing within our system all year and know it well,” said Mike Tolkin, U.S. head coach.

The South African team showed its vulnerability in the first weekend of the tournament, suffering an upset loss to Japan. Since then the Springboks have gone on to beat Samoa and Scotland, the second place team in Pool B.

Shalom Suniula
Shalom Suniula

The United States has lost to Samoa and Scotland and will play Japan on Sunday, Oct. 11.

The Pool B winner and runner-up will play against Australia, who eliminated England from advancing on Saturday, and Wales, who also beat England, the first host nation for the Rugby World Cup to fail to advance through preliminary play.

Olive Kilifi
Olive Kilifi

According to USA Rugby, qualification for the knockout rounds from Pool B is still up for grabs. The Eagles need two bonus-point victories – as well as a non-bonus-point loss for Scotland in its final matchup with Samoa – to have a shot at progressing to the quarterfinals. Bonus points are awarded to teams that score four tries in a win.

With a third-place finish in Pool B, the U.S. could earn automatic qualification to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

(Photos from USA Rugby)