USA and Canada World Cup Round-Up: Round 4
Both the United States and Canadian national teams wrapped up their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaigns over the weekend, and while different circumstances brought two very different results with them, both sides closed out their tournaments with tremendous class.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the 10 Major League Rugby players that made up the 23-man roster for Canada’s final Pool B match against Namibia never got the chance to take the pitch as Typhoon Hagibis, which has resulted in 31 casualties and injured over 180 more people, forced World Rugby to cancel the match.
With an unfortunate ending to their tournament, the Canadians demonstrated a tremendous amount of class and shifted their focus from rugby to aiding Kamaishi, Japan in recovery efforts. While the Canadian’s ultimately ended their tournament in fifth place of Pool B, they made the best out of a bad situation using the values and that makes rugby the great sport that it is.
The Eagles, on the other hand, found themselves locked in an incredibly tight match against Tonga, who sat directly above them in Pool C heading into Sunday morning’s match. Cam Dolan of the NOLA Gold, was the lone MLR player to get the start in the Eagles final match but Olive Kilifi of the Seattle Seawolves, Hanco Germishuys of the Glendale Raptors, and Nate Augspurger and Mike Te’o of the San Diego Legion all played significant minutes in the match that ultimately ended in a 31-19 defeat.
After a back and forth battle early, it was Tonga who found their way onto the scoreboard first with a try and a conversion that put them up 7-0 in the 18th minute. The break in play saw both Te’o and Kilifi sub in at the 19 minute mark, and it didn’t take very long for Te’o to make his presence felt.
Just one minute after stepping on the pitch, Te’o took a pass in stride from Dolan and stepped hard off his right foot, beating the Tongan fullback on his way in for his first try of both the match and the tournament. Fly-half A.J. MacGinty nailed the conversion to tie the match at seven points apiece in the 21st minute.
Using the momentum from Te’o’s first try of the match, the Eagles got right back to work only a handful of minutes later and found Te’o again, this time wide open on the wing, for a walk-in try to give him his second try of the match and the Eagles a 12-7 lead, the first lead of the tournament, that they took into the half.
The second half saw the Tonga score 17 unanswered points over a 23-minute span. The Eagles stopped the bleeding and cut into the Tongan lead with a Tony Lamborn try and a MacGinty conversion in the 77th minute but couldn’t take advantage of the final possession to complete the comeback. The Tongan’s scored on a beautiful grubber on the final play of the match to hand the Eagles a 31-19 defeat that signified the end of both teams’ tournaments.
As was the case with most of the Eagles matches in pool play, the final score didn’t dictate how close the match really was. Tonga held the slight edge in both possession (52 percent) and territory (53 percent), but the Eagles had plenty of chances to put the match away.
Te’o led all scorers in the match with 10 points on his two tries and picked up 55 meters along the way. Kilifi made four tackles to go along with the 12 meters that he gained while Germishuys finished his strong tournament with two tackles and 15 meters gained.
Of the 12 MLR teams that will compete in 2020, nine were represented by players on both the United States and Canadian national teams.
Between the United States and Canada, 26 different current MLR players saw time in at least one of the seven matches that the two sides played in during the World Cup. Two MLR players – NOLA’s Cam Dolan for the United States and Seattle’s Jeff Hassler for Canada – started in all of their teams’ pool matches.
The Rugby World Cup continues Saturday, October 19 with the Quarter-Finals. England takes on Australia at 3:15 AM ET / 12:15 AM PT and New Zealand takes on Ireland at 6:15 AM ET / 3:15 AM PT. To view the rest of the Rugby World Cup schedule, click here.
Dan and Pete sit down to discuss the season that was for
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