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In 1986, USA Rugby (known then as USARFU) decided to schedule World Rugby Cup prep games for the Eagles via an internal tour against three national Territories. An interesting wrinkle to the idea was to allow Eagles to play for their own Territories against the designated Eagle squad for that game. The matches started in December 1986 (Houston), continued to February 1987, (New Orleans), and ended also in February 1987, (San Diego).
This was to prepare for the first World Cup ever, to be played in Australia and New Zealand that May. The All Blacks won this initial cup at Eden Park Stadium against France.
Eagles 11-West 10
Before the game, few perceived that the West would prove competitive against the All Star selected Eagles. But rainy weather helped the Mustangs dominate the first half, and they led 10-3. The Eagles bounced back in the second half with a fine try by Brian Vizard, bringing the score to 10-7. Eagle Gary Hein added a try for the go-ahead 11 points, enough for the win after the West missed a 25-yard penalty near the end of the match.
Eagles 9 – East 9
The second matched proved to be impacted also by weather as strong winds impeded play in one direction. The Eagles lead 9-0 at the break, playing with the wind at their back. When sides reversed, it was the East that put on nine points to tie the game. Long East penalty kicks were missed at 55, 60, and 65 yards, as the game ended in a dull draw.
Pacific Coast 25 – Eagles 10
The meeting with the Grizzlies was predicted to be the most competitive of the three-game series. The Pacific Coast were the victors in the 1986 Territorial Championship. The squad also boasted a bevy of Eagles, including, Burlingham, Crivellone, Helu, Williams, and Hein.
The Eagles looked good in the first half and led 10-3 at halftime. But two Grizzly penalty kicks narrowed the tally to 10-9. A confident Pacific Coast found open spaces in the Eagles’ defense, scoring three tries and two conversions to go ahead 25-10. The final try was notched by 19-year old Mahu Latu playing for PAXOS.
One selector who viewed all three contests, stated, “Eagles players seemed to play harder for their Territories than they did for the Eagles.”