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The Eagles Have Landed ...
USA Eagles Battle in the Rugby World Cup in NZ
Posted Sep 13, 2011 by John Casson
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Although the Rugby Football (American Football’s older cousin) has been played for over 150 years, it is only in recent times that it has begun to gain ground as a popular participation sport in the USA.
Over the next few weeks, the eyes of the world are focusing on the Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand. The USA Eagles, ranked 18th on the world stage, have already played their first game in the tournament against an experienced Irish side (ranked 8th in the world). Poignantly, this match took place on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster. A minute’s silence was observed before the game in memory of those lost.
The Eagles, coached by former Irish international, Eddie O’Sullivan, showed great determination and captain, Todd Clever, was proud of his team’s performance, saying “We played really well and with a lot of heart”. Having played a strong defensive game, in the final moments the Eagles were rewarded with an exciting score, after a well-read interception of a pass by Ronan O’Gara, who is the all time highest point scorer for both his club Munster, and the Irish national side, stealing the final points for the Eagles.
With a score of 22 – 10, Ireland gained the victory on the day, but the USA Eagles won new fans around the world.
Interesting facts about the USA Eagles:
The Eagles don’t have an official home stadium, but play most of their games at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado.
The US top point scorer is Mike Hercus, having scored 77 points playing for the international side.
Eddie O’Sullivan previously coached The Eagles in 2001, before returning to the Ireland camp to become the team’s most successful coach of the modern era. In 2008 he came back to America to prepare the team for their 2011 World Cup challenge.
On the 9th September World Cup opening match against Ireland, Mike MacDonald became The Eagle’s most-capped player, having played 63 tests.
In the same game, USA’s Andrew and Roland Suniula became the first brothers to play in this year’s World Cup.
The Eagle’s Captain, Todd Clever, is the first American ever to played in the Super 14 and scored the first try by an American in the Super 14. His current club side is the Japanese team, Suntory.