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The day arrived on May 21, 1977, when the Eagles played, finally, their North American rivals, the Canadians in the first rugby Test match between these neighbor nations. The Canadians triumphed 17-6 in Swangard Stadium, Vancouver.
Expectations of victory in America were high, perhaps too high in the third ever Test for the USA, which lost international games twice before in 1976 to Australia (24-12) and France (33-14).
The Rugby Magazine headline blared the truth on that day: "CANADA EASILY TOPS U.S.” The write up by regular columnist Tony Scott started with an accurate account of what transpired on the pitch, “America’s Eagles were hammered into the ground by a skilled and well-prepared Canadian National XV.”
A Canadian columnist also authored a report of the match and employed a more pointed headline: “BEAVERS PULL OUT EAGLE FEATHERS.” Of note, the win marked Canada’s first international Test match victory in 45-years.
The Canadian side won because of their forwards' greater experience in the loose, the scrums and the lineouts. The Canadian pack proved superior to their American equivalents, and, without ball, there was no viable Eagle offense. Canada led 14-3 at the break.
The US Side – Brad Andrews, Rob Bordley, Bill Brown, Robert Causey, Dick Cooke, Steve Grey, Jay Hansen, Don Guest, Bruce Henderson, Dennis Jablonski, Scott Kelso, Tom Klein, Michael Liscovitz, Jeff Lombard, Carl Moler, Boyd Morrison, Tom Selfridge, Mike Sherlock, Dave Stephenson, Craig Sweeney, and Dan Wack. Coach: Keith Seaber.
Ed Hagerty Debuts as Editor
In that July 1977 issue of Rugby Magazine, Founder and Publisher Jon Prusmack officially turned over the editorial duties to Ed Hagerty who was charged with “…spreading the rugby gospel across North America.”
Hagerty’s first column as Editor-In-Chief pulled no punches reporting on the Canadian-USA game, criticizing the US rugby community for its naïve arrogance thinking the match would be an easy walkover for the Eagles. This native attitude forty years ago about rugby internationally would soon give way to stark reality as the USA would lose constantly to Six Nations and southern hemisphere sides.
On the positive side, this first contest for the North American Rugby Championship welcomed 6,000 fans to the venue in British Columbia to see the first of many spirited matches against these close rugby rivals.