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Sports Then and Now

Is USA Rugby Ready to Take the Next Step?

Posted on August 31, 2011 by William Taylor

The USA Rugby team is preparing for the upcoming World Cup.

When you think of sport in the United States, you might think American Football, Basketball, Baseball, maybe even Hockey. If you think outside the box, you might notice that Soccer is getting big over there. But Rugby? Surely not.

In fact, Rugby is now new arrival to ‘The Land of the Free’ – it has been around for well over a hundred years, and this November will be 99 years since they played their first international – a 12-8 loss to Australia.

Since then, however, their game has come a long way, and in 1987, they made their first appearance in the newly formed Rugby World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Between then and now, they have featured in every tournament since the 1995 one when they missed out.

Their World Cup debut came against Japan, in Brisbane. The States ran out 21-18 winners that day in an entertaining encounter. But their honeymoon period soon ended, with defeats to Australia and England ending their World Cup dream.

Actually, the USA have never qualified from the group stage of the World Cup – something they will be looking to end this time around. It will be a tough ask again, though, with Australia and Ireland the favourites to emerge from The Eagles’ Pool C.

Italy are improving year by year, and will probably fancy themselves as the main outsiders to qualify from the group, while Russia will certainly be no push overs.

The USA open their campaign with a tricky game against Ireland in New Plymouth on September 11. The two sides met back in the 1999 tournament, as the Irish ran out 53-8 winners, before finishing runners up in the group. Just four days later, they play their most winnable looking fixture, as they take on Russia, again in New Plymouth. The sides have never met in the World Cup.

They travel to Wellington on September 23 to play Australia, who have down the years become something of a difficult opponent. The last time they met was in the 1999 World Cup, as they were beaten 55-19. Their Pool C games are wrapped up with the Italy game on September 27 in Nelson.

It will be intriguing to see how far those in a American World Cup Jersey can go this year – qualifying from their group would certainly be good for the game over there.

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