Eagles eye first RWC 2015 win


GLOUCESTER, England – The USA Men’s Eagles finish their seventh Rugby World Cup Sunday, Oct. 11
, against Japan at Kingsholm Stadium.

The 3 p.m. ET kickoff will mark the second time in a year the U.S. will have taken to the pitch at the home of Aviva Premiership’s Gloucester Rugby, having lost a rankings test against Tonga last autumn. Universal Sports will provide live broadcast coverage of the match, while the official Twitter account of USA Rugby will “tweet” match updates using the social media “hashtag” #BlueNation2015.

After missing Rugby World Cup 2011, Samu Manoa earns his fourth consecutive start of the 2015 tournament. The Concord, Calif., native is the only Eagle to be named to the starting XV for each of the U.S.’s Pool B matches. Manoa served as captain Wednesday, but returns the armband to Chris Wyles, who appeared as a substitute in the loss to South Africa.

“The time between matches has been a blink of the eye,” Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “Many of the players who will play versus Japan did not play on Wednesday; the players who did play have had very limited time training and mainly rest maintenance.”

Men’s Eagles Sevens standout Zack Test made his first Rugby World Cup appearance opposite all-time Rugby World Cup joint-top try-scorer Bryan Habana Wednesday. He will partner Taku Ngwenya as the Eagles look to replicate the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup defeat of Japan earlier this summer.

“Zack worked very hard off the ball in both defense and attack [against South Africa] and is able to make some good ground with ball in hand,” Tolkin said. “He was technically sound in most of the areas he needed to perform.”

Andrew Durutalo scored the U.S.’s only try at Bonney Field in Sacramento, while AJ MacGinty kicked six penalties to nullify Japan’s three tries. Including the flanker and fly half, as well as the captain at full back, 11 of Sunday’s starting XV started the July 24 encounter.

The second-row duo of Greg Peterson and Hayden Smith returns to physically punish the Brave Blossoms after similar campaigns against Samoa and Scotland, while the front-row threesome of Zach Fenoglio, Eric Fry, and Titi Lamositele will look to replicate their earlier scrum successes in England. Additionally, Lamositele is one of four Eagles to have scored at Rugby World Cup 2015.

Mike Petri, along with Lamositele, was an unused substitute against the Springboks, but will make his 57th international appearance in an Eagles jersey Sunday. Debuting against South Africa in France in 2007, Petri is one of several U.S. players at their third Rugby World Cup, and is behind only Mate Moeakiola, Ngwenya, and Wyles for most World Cup caps in the 31-man roster with seven.

Japan shocked the greater rugby world last month with a pool-opening upset victory against South Africa, and remains in contention for a place in the knockout rounds with eight points from three matches. Eddie Jones’ side will have had eight days between Sunday’s match and its last match against Samoa in Milton Keynes, as opposed to the U.S.’s four days. The two nations have met twice at Rugby World Cups, with the Eagles holding a 2-0 advantage.

“This is a team that continues to grow and reach milestones,” Tolkin said. “We were leading Scotland at halftime with no tries – an Eagle first versus a Tier One team. It is a team that has a great deal of emerging talent, and they will start to come into their own very soon.

“With veterans such as Wyles, [Louis] Stanfill, Petri, and [Phil] Thiel around, they learned to be internationals. Their talent will blossom. I think that the fans of the Eagles saw glimpses of the possibilities that this team has [at this World Cup].”


Men’s Eagles | v. Japan
1. Eric Fry
2. Zach Fenoglio
3. Titi Lamositele
4. Hayden Smith
5. Greg Peterson
6. Al McFarland
7. Andrew Durutalo
8. Samu Manoa
9. Mike Petri
10. AJ MacGinty
11. Zack Test
12. Thretton Palamo
13. Seamus Kelly
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya
15. Chris Wyles (C)

Men’s Eagles | Reserves
16. Phil Thiel
17. Olive Kilifi
18. Chris Baumann
19. Cameron Dolan
20. John Quill
21. Danny Barrett
22. Niku Kruger
23. Folau Niua

Japan | v. USA
1. Keita Inagaki
2. Shota Horie
3. Hiroshi Yamashita
4. Luke Thompson
5. Justin Ives
6. Michael Leitch (C)
7. Michael Broadhurst
8. Ryu Koliniasi Holani
9. Fumiaki Tanaka
10. Kosei Ono
11. Kotaro Matsushima
12. Craig Wing
13. Harumichi Tatekawa
14. Yoshikazu Fujita
15. Ayumu Goromaru

Japan | Reserves
16. Takeshi Kizu
17. Masataka Mikami
18. Kensuke Hatakeyama
19. Shinya Makabe
20. Amanaki Lelei Mafi
21. Hendrik Tui
22. Atsushi Hiwasa
23. Karne Hesketh

Men’s Eagles | Rugby World Cup 2015
v. Samoa – L 25-16
v. Scotland – L 39-16
v. South Africa – L 64-0
v. Japan – Sunday, Oct. 11 – 3 p.m. ET