Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 - USA vs Russia Preview

World events and Rugby World Cup 2011 continue to intertwine. Sunday´s match between the United States of America and Ireland marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the USA while tommorrow´s match between the USA and Russia is to be Russia´s first and it will pay tribute to the 37 people who died in a plane crash last week. A plane carrying players and staff of a professional Russian hockey team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, crashed shortly after take-off from its local airport, as it was set to travel to Minsk, Belarus to play in its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season. The terrible accident only makes the huge occassion even bigger.

The match has long been built up as being the battle of the Cold War and is, indeed, set to make a small city famous. Following the end of the devasting Second World War, in 1945, the USA and the USSR were enemies, involved in the 46 year confrontation known as the Cold War which ended in 1991 with the disintegration of the communist state. Russia was easily the largest of the USSR´s republic´s. It was effectively the centre of the empire. Tommorrow´s clash in New Plymouth will see the two former global superpowers fight it out as twenty-two players represent each country in the biggest rugby match to ever have been played in the history of the city of New Plymouth and in the history of USA and Russian rugby.

The match is to be Russia´s first ever in a Rugby World Cup. As such, Russia are the 20th and final team to start its campaign after Canada, Georgia and Samoa all would have started the previous day. The venue is the same as that which hosted Ireland vs the United States on Sunday, September 11 in which a spirited USA Eagles team surpassed expectations in competing well vs Ireland for the full 80 minutes. Ireland won the match 22-10 by scoring three tries to one but were unable to score a bonus point. The result means that Ireland are in second place in the group behind Australia who scored a bonus point victory over Italy, also on Sunday. With the top two sides from each pool advancing to the play-off´s, Thursday´s Cold War battle is a must-win for both sides.

Prediction

Both sides have come a long way in a short space of time. Four years ago nobody predicted that Russia would be competing at New Zealand 2011. At France 2007, the USA were unlucky to lost to both Samoa and Tonga and since that time have improved as a team and more and more players have landed professional contracts abroad. Of the fifteen players to start, twelve played professionally last season in either Europe, New Zealand or Japan. Russia´s players are all professionals, based in Russia, Australia, France and England. The vast majority are based in Russia itself which has a professional league but is not of the same quality as those found in Western Europe. Russia´s biggest advantage going into this match is fitness as the USA are playing just four says after facing Ireland. The USA Eagles, however, should be too strong for the Europeans and should hold on. The USA to win by 10 points.

History

The USA and Russia have met on four occassions previously. The first match took place in 1988, before the end of the Cold War with Russia hosting the USA and winning 31-16 in Moscow. The secon match took place in Tokyo in 2004 as Japan hosted a tournament known as the Super Powers Cup and the North Americans came oout on top in winning 41-11. The two other matches have been played over the past two years and both were a part of the Churchill Cup. In June 2010 the USA Eagles defeated Russia 39-22 in Denver, Colorado in what was a highly competitive match until the host side broke clear in the final quarter of the match. In 2011 it was a similar affair as the USA held on to win 32-25 in Worcester, England.

USA

1 Mike MacDonald
2 Chris Biller
3 Matekitonga Moeakiola
4 John van der Giessen
5 Hayden Smith
6 Louis Stanfill
7 Todd Clever (Captain)
8 Nic Johnson
9 Mike Petri
10 Roland Suniula
11 James Paterson
12 Andrew Suniula
13 Paul Emerick
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya
15 Chris Wyles

Reserves

16 Phil Thiel
17 Shawn Pittman
18 Scott LaValla
19 Pat Danahy
20 Tim Usasz
21 Nese Malifa
22 Blaine Scully

Russia

1 Sergey Popov
2 Vladislav Korshunov (Captain)
3 Ivan Prishchepenko
4 Alexander Voytov
5 Denis Antonov
6 Artem Fatakhov
7 Andrey Garbuzov
8 Vyacheslav Grachev
9 Alexander Shakirov
10 Yury Kushnarev
11 Vladimir Ostroushko
12 Alexey Makovetskiy
13 Konstantin Rachkov
14 Vasily Artemyev
15 Igor Klyuchnikov

Reserves

16 Valery Tsnobiladze
17 Vladmimir Botvinnikov
18 Alexander Khrokin
19 Adam Byrnes
20 Alexander Yanyushkin
21 Victor Gresev
22 Andrey Kuzin

USA vs Russia, 2010


Rugby World Cup Match Preview

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