Friday, March 22, 2013

Retro Friday- Kort Schubert scores for USA v Fiji in 2003

Kort Schubert v Fiji 2003
Rugby World Cup 2003 will likely go down in history as the worst of all time. Its extremely unfair match scheduling gave the Tri Nations and Five Nations teams more time than the other teams to prepare for matches. It was so badly balanced in their favor that both Ireland and Wales had a full week to prepare for their final pool matches against Australia and New Zealand despite their third pool matches having been against Italy and Argentina with both losing and, in doing so, being eliminated. Argentina was eliminated before England had played its third match. The organizers succeeded in tilting the advantage so far in favor of the eight traditional powers that there were no upsets at all in the group stage. There were some near misses such as Samoa playing well against England and Tonga against Wales but no upsets eventuated. 

One of the best games of Rugby World Cup 2003 was another. The USA faced Fiji four says after Fiji had faced France in its first pool match of the tournament. The USA was playing its first match and would back up five days later with a match against Scotland. France and Scotland, in contrast, played exclusively on weekends. It was a highly demanding start to the tournament and the USA was given no chance of winning by the bookies. The USA was refered to as a minnow rugby nation throughout the tournament. Rather than it being a celebration of the sport the World Cup in 2003 was more about having the majority of participants only there to make up the numbers. Thankfully things changes for 2007 and with fairer match schedules there were far better matches with less lop-sided results. 

The match between Fiji and the USA went down to the wire and was decided by a kick at goal. Mike Hercus had the opportunity to win the match on full time with a conversion but was unsuccessful. It meant Fiji was saved in winning 19-18. The kick came following a try scored in the left corner by backrower Kort Schubert who formed a very noteworthy back row combination with Dan Lyle and captain Dave Hodges. They proved highly effective together, especially in defense with Fiji unable to play to its usual standards. The match featured three tries with two being scored by the USA Eagles. The second of which was on full time and came from a wonderful flick-pass from hercus to Schubert. After the match Hodges told reporters that nobody had expected the USA to win but his team almost pulled it off. 

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