Thursday, January 16, 2014

Full Strength USA to face Uruguay in March

Manoa will be free to face Uruguay
Alex Goff has confirmed that supporters of USA rugby can breathe easily in knowing that the upcoming Rugby World Cup qualification matches against Uruguay will see the USA fielding its leading players. As such the number two ranked North American rugby nation is now the overwhelming favorite to winner the North v South American play-off series. 

The USA will face Uruguay in a two match home and away series in March with the winner qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Americas 2. The loser will not be eliminated but will face a difficult road to the World Cup via repercharge. Not only will the loser of the USA v Uruguay have to then play in the intercontinental tournament to determine the Play-off Winner but the side that does qualify as the Play-Off Winner will have the daunting task of facing England and Wales on their respective soil and also take on Australia and Oceania 1. 

The upcoming qualifying matches in March are therefore crucial to both competitors from the Americas. The prize is a place in Pool B, an easier task than that awaiting the Play-Off Winner. Pool B is led by two time World champion South Africa and will also consist of Samoa, Scotland and Asia 1. Aside from the Springboks the other sides are ones in which the USA will expect to be able to put up a serious challenge and this coming June will serve as a test of the extent of this as the USA will host Scotland in Houston. 

Uruguay is looking to return to the World Cup after failing to qualify since 2003 while the USA is looking to leave a notable impact by winning matches and further encouraging the growth of rugby in the country. The contrast in differences illustrates what has been achieved in the USA since Uruguay qualified for Rugby World Cup 2003 ahead of the USA. 

The difference that has seen the USA Eagles come to be considered a superior team is professionalism. Today the majority of the Eagles starting lineup not only play professional rugby but receive regular game time. In some instances the players are amongst the best in their respective competitions with Samu Manoa, Chris Wyles, Scott LaValla, Todd Clever and Taku Nwenya having contributed heavily to teams in England, France and Japan.

These players will all be free to represent the USA in March in the first match in Montevideo on March 15 and in the return fixture in Atlanta on March 22. Joining them will likely be others to have joined new clubs or started their professional career this season including Nick Civetta, Cam Dolan, Titi Lamositele, Blaine Scully, Robbie Shaw Hayden Smith and Andrew Suniula.

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