Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
WEST COAST SEVENS!
World Rugby’s Americas Pacific Challenge provided the USA Selects with three tough matches and The Rugby Channel’s viewers with some outstanding international action.
After an opening defeat by Fiji, this week the Selects faced off against Canada A on Wednesday and Uruguay A on Sunday at Estadio Charrua in Montevideo, Uruguay where they recorded one win and one loss.
First up though, be sure to watch TRC Report #23 for all the highlights from both matches!
Whatever the name of the team, whatever the competition, it’s always a big deal when the USA plays against Canada.
The USA Selects had by far their best overall performance of the Americas Pacific Challenge in their match with their northern rivals. It didn’t start out that way, however, as they had to overcome some poor early defense and a large deficit to get the victory.
Several players in this contest were impressive.
Hanco Germishuys started his first match at this level at hooker and acquitted himself admirably. His throw-ins were generally spot-on and he continued to get around the pitch as if he was still a loose forward.
The scrummaging problems the USA experienced throughout the tournament can’t be blamed on his newness in the position as they were readily apparent in all three fixtures and he only started one wearing the number two shirt.
Martin Iosefo scored a couple of tries but that wasn’t the best part of his play on Wednesday. More important was his rush defense and the attacking lines he ran. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a call up as a potential addition to the Eagles for their Fall Tour.
Ben Cima can kick goals from anywhere. Everybody knew that after his monster blast back in Austin for the U20s to beat Canada in February but now he’s also shown that he can run the show from the flyhalf position.
His deft passing and ability to put runners into holes plus his aggressive running showed a lot of class for one of the younger members of the squad.
Mike Te’o is one of those guys that can play most of the positions in the backline but it’s not entirely clear which will be the best one for him and whichever team he’s playing for. This may ultimately hurt him in future selections but he deserves to be on the field somewhere in an Eagles jersey.
The final scoreline made it seem worse than it was but the Selects were in this one until the 64th minute when they went down to 14 men before Uruguay A pulled away with three late scores.
The scrum problems that bedeviled the Selects throughout the Challenge were on full display against the powerful Uruguayans. When they weren’t getting penalties for collapsing they were being completely dominated and pushed backwards, and also struggling to get the ball out cleanly on their own put-ins.
Uruguay A took full advantage of their scrum dominance and used it to put the USA on the back foot defensively throughout the match.
Scrum issues are notoriously difficult to diagnose and fix, especially in a limited time assemblage such as this one for the Challenge. At least now they can analyze what went wrong and work to correct it, one of the advantages of having a development tournament like this one.
Overall, the USA Selects performance was appropriate and about as expected considering their youthfulness, lack of preparation time, and the more senior nature of the other teams involved.
This will be a real treat for sevens fans as some of the very best teams in collegiate rugby will meet on Treasure Island in San Francisco.
This year’s event will feature sixteen teams from various divisions: Cal, Saint Mary’s, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, Air Force, Grand Canyon, Santa Clara, San Diego State, Cal Poly, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, University of San Diego, Western Washington, and San Francisco State.
Our coverage begins on Sunday afternoon with the heart of the knockout rounds. We’ll have the Cup Semis, Bowl Semis, Plate Consolation and Final, Bowl Final, and wrap it up with the Cup Consolation and Final.
This is the penultimate week of pool play in the Heartland Championship and playoff slots are up for grabs, which naturally increases the intensity of the matches.
The first match between Poverty Bay and Wairarapa Bush went right down to the wire with the visitors getting the points necessary to give themselves a shot at a spot in the Meads Cup semifinals.
Wanganui and South Canterbury are already guaranteed places in the Meads Cup semis while Mid Canterbury, Buller, Wairarapa Bush, and King Country will be battling it out on the final weekend for the last two spaces.
The two who don’t make it will drop to the Lochore Cup and will be joined by two more from the group of North Otago, Poverty Bay, and Horowhenua Kapiti.
Tune in this week to catch up and get ready for the playoffs!
Episode 89 of WRTV wraps up The Rugby Championship with more great tries and action, profiles Australia scrum coach and former Argentinean hooker Mario Ledesma, provides highlights from the European Women’s Championship, looks at the launch of England’s Women’s team as the Red Roses, covers the first round of the Americas Pacific Challenge, and details Columbia’s quest to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019.
Another outstanding episode that is fun to watch and that does a great job of covering the breadth of rugby around the world.
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