LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Men’s Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell has assembled a travel squad of 38 players for the three-match November Tour kicking off Friday, Nov. 4, at “The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG” in Chicago.
Todd Clever, current U.S. caps leader at international test level, and Blaine Scully will continue to serve as co-captains of the Eagles, with the Cardiff Blues back joining the squad for matches against Romania in Bucharest Saturday, Nov. 12, and Tonga in Spain Saturday, Nov. 19. The two possess the veteran experience of a third of the assembly’s 327 combined caps, while six players could earn their test debuts in Europe.
Thirty players will be available for the match in Chicago, half of whom competed with the USA Rugby Selects development squad at the Americas Pacific Challenge last month. Indiana University’s Bryce Campbell, Brigham Young University’s Matthew Jensen, and Life University’s Alex Maughan are being made available by their collegiate institutions, as are nine Eagles of seven European clubs during the Regulation 9 window.
“By the time we get to the end of this assembly, we’ll have seen a major portion of the athletes on our radar in terms of talent available at the men’s XVs level,” Mitchell said. “We have an assembly now with one game focused on the Maori and the other two focused on World Rugby Rankings points.
“Slowly but surely we’re changing the mindset of this team having its own identity and not being perceived as an invitational side. We’re changing that and the standards to meet if you want to play for the USA Eagles.”
The majority of the squad has been training at the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., where Olympians Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, Madison Hughes, Martin Iosefo, and Folau Niua prepared for Rugby Sevens’ Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games debut earlier this year. Seven current residents of the Men’s Eagles Sevens program have been named to the touring squad.
Wing Marcel Brache of the Australian Super Rugby franchise Western Force, born in Los Angeles, could solidify his American test eligibility with the team in Europe. The 29-year-old, as well as Chris Baumann, James Hilterbrand, and Tony Lamborn, have finished their competitive seasons in the Southern Hemisphere.
“We have such diversity in terms of professional players competing in several countries and domestic club and collegiate players,” Mitchell said. “it’s important we catch up in fitness and skill integration quickly. We have a model that’s important for us, certainly one that sets our mentality to train the habits that we want.”
Sixteen players, including five AIG Men’s Collegiate and Junior All-Americans, are 25 years old or younger in a squad of an average age of 26. Following a youthful Selects tour, the November Tour will continue to test the depth of the talent pool at the tail end of the first year of the Rugby World Cup 2019 quadrennial. The Eagles are set to open their Qualifying campaign for the ninth tournament in 2017.
“The group at the Americas Rugby Championship was largely developmental, and we made good grounds during the June test series,” Mitchell said. “We want to go out and perform and win rugby matches, clearly, and we’re trying to surface and give new, young talent experience at a higher level to develop our player pool at this level.”
Following a non-rankings match against the Maori All Blacks at Toyota Park, the Eagles will look to better their No. 17 World Rugby ranking against No. 16 Romania and No. 15 Tonga. The U.S. is 6-1 against Romania all-time, the most recent matchup a victory for the tourists in Bucharest in 2014. Spain’s hosting of the final match of the November Tour will be the third consecutive meeting between the Eagles and Tonga to be held on neutral ground.
“Once we get to Romania we’ll have probably our most experienced group to date,” Mitchell said. “The New Zealand Maori is arguably the best non-test rugby team in the world; a high-performing team where the players are either All Blacks or potential All Blacks, or certainly have played Super Rugby. They’re a side that always looks to express themselves and have always been that way. Coming from a country where they are world champions two times running, coming off of setting a world record – they’re a part of that system.
“We have a lot of diversity in terms of the levels our players were selected from but it’s a good opportunity for them individually and collectively to perform as USA Eagles against one of the best teams in the world. If there’s ever a game where you need to raise your standards and play a level that’s going to ask questions of you, these are the games you live for and want to play.”
Broadcast details for the matches in Europe are to be confirmed, with this Friday’s match at “The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG” to be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel at 7 p.m. CT. Few tickets remain, and are available via Ticketmaster.
Men’s Eagles | November Tour
|Nate Augspurger||Old Blue of New York||//|
|Danny Barrett||Men’s Eagles Sevens|
|Chris Baumann||Wellington Lions (NZL)||//|
|Marcel Brache*||Western Force (AUS)||/|
|Nate Brakeley||New York Athletic Club||//|
|Bryce Campbell*||Indiana University||//|
|Ben Cima||Rocky Gorge Rugby Football Club|
|Nick Civetta*||Newcastle Falcons (ENG)||/|
|Todd Clever||Austin Huns||//|
|Cameron Dolan||Cardiff Blues (WAL)||/|
|Andrew Durutalo||Sunwolves (JPN)||//|
|JP Eloff||Chicago Lions / PRO Ohio Aviators||//|
|Lemoto Filikitonga||Metropolis Rugby Football Club||//|
|Ahmad Harajly*||Detroit Tradesmen Rugby Club / PRO Ohio Aviators|
|Langilangi Haupeakui||Glasgow Warriors (SCO)||/|
|James Hilterbrand||Waratahs / Manly Rugby (AUS)||//|
|Madison Hughes*||Men’s Eagles Sevens||//|
|Martin Iosefo*||Men’s Eagles Sevens||//|
|Matthew Jensen*||Brigham Young University||//|
|Tony Lamborn||Hawke’s Bay Magpies (NZL)||//|
|Titi Lamositele||Saracens (ENG)||/|
|Matai Leuta*||Men’s Eagles Sevens||//|
|Angus MacLellan||Chicago Lions / PRO Ohio Aviators||//|
|Siaosi Mahoni*||PRO San Francisco Rush|
|Samu Manoa||RC Toulonnais (FRA)||/|
|Alex Maughan*||Life University||//|
|Al McFarland||New York Athletic Club||//|
|Taku Ngwenya||Brive (FRA)||/|
|Folau Niua||Men’s Eagles Sevens|
|Thretton Palamo||Bristol Rugby (ENG)||/|
|Blaine Scully||Cardiff Blues (WAL)||/|
|Joe Taufete’e||PRO San Diego Breakers||//|
|Mike Te’o||PRO San Diego Breakers||//|
|Stephen Tomasin||Men’s Eagles Sevens||//|
|Dino Waldren*||Blackrock College (IRL)||/|
|*Indicates player uncapped at international test level|
Men’s Eagles | Coaching Staff
John Mitchell – Head Coach
Mike Friday – Attack Coach
Phil Greening – Defense Coach
Rob Hoadley – Backs Coach
Marty Veale – Forwards Coach
Paul Goulding – Analyst
Alex Ross – Strength & Conditioning
Simon Hurry – Mental Skills
Brian Finn – Physiotherapist
Rob Wassilak – Physiotherapist
Dr. Marc Kowalsky – Team Doctor
Men’s Eagles | November Tour
v. Maori All Blacks – Friday, Nov. 4 @ Toyota Park – Chicago
v. Romania – Saturday, Nov. 12 @ Stadionul Arcul de Triumf – Bucharest
v. Tonga – Saturday, Nov. 19 @ Estadio Anoeta – San Sebastián, Spain