A sign of the level of interest that exists within the United States of America was highly visible three years ago to this day as the USA Eagles took on Ireland at the Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California in 2009. A crowd of 10,000 turned up for the match and were treated to some good rugby as the USA hosted Tier One side, Ireland. Such fixtures are what the North Americans have been wanting more of and following the end of the Churchill Cup era they will indeed beccome more freequent with Italy touring in June this year.
However, in 2009, neither team was close to being at full strength as Ireland was missing players to Lions duty as the British and Irish Lions were touring South Africa. This saw Denis Hurley make his international debut for the Irish from the bench. The North Americans, however, had a far more experimental side which had eight players debuting and six of them were in the starting lineup. The players appearing for the fist time were Chris Biller, Peter Dahl, Nic Johnson, Will Johnson, Ata Malifa, Roland Suniula, Kevin Swiryn and Tim Usasz. With no Todd Clever the captaincy went to scrumhalf Mike Petri. Ireland was captained by hooker Rory Best.
The match went the way of the visitors with the Irish showing their superiority to keep the hosts scoreless at the interval as Ireland led 13-0. Ireland also won the second half by scoring 14 points, while the USA managed 10 but the USA´s try, scored by Suniula was a good reward for the Eagles performance. The United States of America will be looking to do better vs the Italians and will be making use of the brand new state of the art stadium in Houston, Texas.