Eagles return home after disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign
The USA Eagles are flying home from England after a disappointing Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign.
The fourth and final pool game against Japan on Sunday was a bridge too far for the red, white and blue, and they eventually went down to a brilliantly coached Japan team.
The final score was 28-18 to the “Brave Blossoms,” and so the Eagles leave the UK 0-4 after pool play wrapped up Sunday.
Japan won three of their four pool matches, but with no bonus points to show for what was their best ever record at the Rugby World Cup, they are also sadly departing the UK for home. From Pool B, South Africa and Scotland advance. Japan, Samoa and USA go home. The consolation prize for Japan is finishing third, which hands them automatic qualification to RWC 2019, which Japan will host.
The positives for the USA are many, and the work will start now for next season and beyond. A full review of planning, coaching, selections and match management needs to happen as soon as they hit U.S. soil. I personally believe the USA have a great group of players to choose from, but without a professional league here at home and without truly professional coaches running the show, they will continue to struggle.
Japan has a professional league, and they have in coach Eddie Jones a true master of the game. For the USA to succeed, they need to adopt a more professional approach in all aspects of the game. Japan has laid down the blueprint.
USA was certainly in this fight — the match was there for the taking, however a reluctance from the coaching staff to bring on fresh legs in key positions left the Eagles looking flat and short of a gallop.
After loose head prop Eric Fry was binned for cynical play in the 61st minute, he surprisingly returned to the field 10 minutes later, and the two big props were mere spectators for the final 10 minutes. Japan used all eight reserves available, and the timing of their introduction was crucial in the victory. The USA, meanwhile, left four unused players on the bench.
It’s here where the inexperience of the coaching staff became evident. Will they learn from this final match? Let’s hope so. USA rugby fans deserve better than what Mike Tolkin and his crew dished up.
The Rugby World Cup kicks into gear next week with the quarter finals, with two matches on Saturday and Sunday.
• South Africa play Wales at Twickenham, London.
• New Zealand play France at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
• Ireland play Argentina at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
• Australia play Scotland at Twickenham, London.
I’m picking the four southern hemisphere nations to appear the following weekend in the semi-finals.
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