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37 players will represent the United States in the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship beginning next month. The player pool includes just 11 Eagles from last year’s Rugby World Cup and 15 with caps, meaning as many as 22 players will earn their first in the pilot competition.
The team was selected by high performance director Alex Magleby and strength and conditioning manager David Williams. Eagles head man John Mitchell will join the team during training in Houston due to the passing of his mother in New Zealand. Phil Greening, the former England captain and British & Irish Lion who has assisted Mike Friday with the 7s Eagles, will assume interim head coaching duties in the meantime.
Greening is one of three new assistant coaches appointed for the ARC. He’s joined by Marty Veale, who has been playing and coaching with New York Old Blue going on a decade after a professional career overseas, and Rob Hoadley, another former English international. All three spent time with the London Wasps, just like Mitchell, Friday and USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville.
The most notable veteran named in the ARC pool is Todd Clever. Assuming he appears in all three of the matches he’s available for, he will creep within one cap of Mike MacDonald for the USA’s all-time appearance record.
Several top-line Eagles will play just one game in the competition, Argentina – Cam Dolan, Greg Peterson, Takudzwa Ngwenya and Blaine Scully. Fellow overseas pro Eric Fry will play against Argentina and Canada before returning to Newcastle, while clubmate Clever will also be available against Chile before heading back overseas.
Numerous overseas pros and capped Eagles were unavailable for selection, though some were simply not picked, too. Andrew Suniula (38 caps), Tom Coolican (8 caps) and Kyle Sumsion (5 caps) were among those available and not selected.
The glaring positions of dearth for the USA for the ARC will be at lock and flyhalf. The only pure lock in the extended squad is Peterson, who will play just one game. Dolan has logged a lot of time in the second row, but he will also be available for just one game. Clever and Trouville certainly have played lock, but sparingly. Outside of the Argentina game, the USA will be relying on debutants, inexperience and out-of-position players in the engine room.
There isn’t a cap in the squad in the flyhalf position. Eloff is a multi-time All-American and a veteran of the age-grade system, but he has no senior international duty. James Bird has been plying his trade at the club level.
There are two positive coups of note. One is the inclusion of Tom Bliss at scrumhalf. He has participated in age-grade duty with the USA but rebuffed the senior national team in the past to keep his domestic status in the U.K. to make himself more employable in the Premiership. That he will earn his first cap and be available for the entire tournament is a big win for the Eagles staff.
The other notable acquisition is that of Michelangelo Sosene-Feagai, a former U20s player with Samoa. He’s spent time recently in New Zealand and is now embedded in Belmont Shore with fellow selection Joseph Taufete’e, adding much needed depth and youth to the hooker position.
|Jake Anderson||Olympic Club|
|Chris Baumann||Austin Rugby Club|
|Demecus Beach||Life University|
|James Bird||Old Blue of New York|
|Patrick Blair||Men's Eagles Sevens|
|Tom Bliss||London Wasps (England)|
|Todd Clever||Newcastle Falcons (England)|
|Cameron Dolan||Cardiff Blues (Wales)|
|Nic Edwards||Men's Eagles Sevens|
|Jean Pierre Eloff||Chicago Lions RFC|
|Cameron Falcon||New Orleans Rugby Football Club|
|Lemoto Filikitonga||Metropolis RFC|
|Eric Fry||Newcastle Falcons (England)|
|Mike Garrity||Seattle Saracens|
|Hanco Germishuys||Glendale Raptors|
|Alec Gletzer||Olympic Club|
|Luke Hume||Old Blue of New York|
|Olive Kilifi||Seattle Saracens|
|Niku Kruger||Glendale Raptors|
|Titi Lamositele||Saracens (England)|
|Ben Landry||Seattle Saracens|
|Chad London||Glendale Raptors|
|Ryan Matyas||Old Blue of New York|
|Kingsley McGowan||Trinity College Dublin|
|Takudzwa Ngwenya||Biarritz Olympique|
|Brodie Orth||Kansas City Blues|
|Greg Peterson||Glasgow Warriors (Scotland)|
|Aladdin Schirmer||Central Washington University|
|Blaine Scully||Cardiff Blues (Wales)|
|Michelangelo Sosene-Feagai||Belmont Shore Rugby Football Club|
|Tim Stanfill||Seattle Saracens|
|David Tameilau||Life West Gladiators|
|Joseph Taufete'e||Belmont Shore Rugby Football Club|
|Mike Te'o||Men's Eagles Sevens|
|Bruce Thomas||San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club|
|Matt Trouville||Seattle Saracens|