Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rugby World Cup Qualifier North American Preview - Q&A with Curtis Reed

With the countdown on to see whether it will be Canada or the USA qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Americas 1 Argentina 2023 has been in contact with prominent North American contributors to the global game. In the second of two interviews Argentina 2023 caught up with Curtis Reed who supports Argentina hosting Rugby World Cup 2023 and has reviewed the book

PT: What is the feeling in the USA rugby community towards this weekends Rugby World Cup Qualification match against Canada?

Reed: The feeling in the community is of two minds right now. 1) This is one of the best American squads in a long time. The re-introduction of Samu Manoa to the team has given them an extra presence that Canada hasn't seen before. Playing the first leg at home should also be an advantage. Charleston was the last place the U.S. beat Canada. 2) It's been a long time since the U.S. beat Canada and the community knows it. There is a sense that we are now behind Canada not only on a national team level but also a developmental level. The community is optimistic for a win but also realistic of recent form. 

PT: The USA´s last victory over Canada was the identical fixture in 2009. Since then the USA has ran Canada close on omore than one occassion but has been unsuccessful. How can the USA change this on Saturday?

Reed:As I mentioned, Manoa's presence should be huge. He was a massive factor against Ireland and completely changed the way the Irish approached the match. He fits in well with the team and makes the players around him better. That said, it comes down to the scrum. If the forwards can't hold their own they will allow Canada to dominate the match. The U.S. has great runners in Luke Hume, Chris Wyles, and Taku Ngwenya but unless there is a platform to get them they ball they aren't effective. 

PT: Does the USA have the forwards to shut down Canada?

Reed:Shutting down Canada is too far of a stretch but they can play even with them. There is no question that Canada will miss Hubert Buydens while at the same time Eric Fry continues to improve. Throughout the forwards it should be an even match with Canada having an advantage in the front-row. 

PT: How can the USA Eagles adjust to the post Paul Emerick era?

Reed:Losing a great player like Emerick definitely hurts but the coaching staff knew he wouldn't likely be ready and test out several players in June for the position. Unfortunately one of those players, Adam Siddall, is out injured. Seamus Kelly will likely get the start and should do well. It will take time to groom a new outside center. 

PT: Indeed, Chris Wyles has experience for Saracens at outside centre. Does he have a future as the Eagles 13 at Rugby World Cup 2015?

Reed: Coach Tolkin has faith in Kelly. I've asked him about switching Wyles or a player like Blaine Scully and he is more keen to have them at their strongest position while going with a natural outside center. That said, he could opt for more experience in Wyles on Saturday. 

PT: On another note, there has been a long standing belief that the USA suffers at scrum time. Will the new engagement laws enable the USA Eagles frontrow to be more competitive?

Reed: Possibly. It's a little to early to tell. I'm as fascinated to see what happens as everyone else. 

PT: Would you care to predict the outcome of the match in Charleston, South Carolina?

Reed: I think the U.S. will win the match by a try. However, Canada will take the series.  

PT: Americas 1 will face France, Ireland, Italy and Europe 2. Americas 2 wll take on South Africa, Scotland, Samoa and Asia 1. Would Americas 2 not provide the USA with a better chance of completing an historical two RWC victories in a tournament?

Reed: In theory. At the moment I would fancy the Eagles of picking up two wins in the Americas 1 group than Americas 2. I know I wrote differently when the pools first came out, however, at the moment Samoa are higher in the rankings than Ireland and Italy. Asia 1 is almost certain to go to Japan, who have been improving over recent years. Professionalism has really helped them improve to the point where they have more depth that the Eagles. Scotland is the potential upset. I would think the U.S. would have a better chance against Italy and Europe 2.

PT: Just to finish, should Argentina host Rugby World Cup 2023?

Reed: Why not? But the U.S. is also a good choice! 

Thank you so much for your time Curtis.

Mr. Reed is the founder and editor of This Is American Rugby, He has also written for U.S.A Rugby, the U.S. Rugby Super League, and The Rugby Forum. Additionally, Reed has a regular column and RugbyRugby and Soccer 365 and is a member of the Pan American Rugby Writers. Curtis is a graduate of the University of Washington and Utah State University. You can contact him at and follow him on twitter    

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