rugbymag-com
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 22:43    PDF Print Write e-mail
Answers Elusive for USA Coach
National Teams - USA Men
Photos Ian Muir



It’s been a rare afternoon that the USA has lost quite so badly to a team next to it in the rankings. And while the 44-13 Tonga win over the Eagles was inflated by two soft tries at the end, part of the job is, of course, not to give up soft tries.

The job is also to play together on defense, be aware of your teammates enough to avoid forward passes, to hold onto the ball, and to execute the basics when a try is on offer.

With a few exceptions, the USA did not do this.

“We made a poor start,” said USA Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan. “We let them jump out ahead of us. We looked pretty ring rusty and really we looked like a team that hadn’t played together in six months.”

O’Sullivan was pleased with the improvement in player in the second quarter of the match, a period that produced one try and almost two more.

“We might have been out ahead if we had not turned the ball over,” said the coach.

 The end of the first half and beginning of the second, in fact, was the killer for the USA. Scott LaValla stretched over to score his second try in two games, but scrumhalf Soane Havea slapped the ball away, forcing a knock-on.

 Then, at the beginning of the second half, Tonga had a scrum near midfield. When the ball came out, Todd Clever was tackled down to the ground without the ball. His job, as openside flanker, is to fill the holes between scrum and flyhalf, and flyhalf and inside center. With Clever not there, Etueni Siua raced right through that hole, and set up a try.

O’Sullivan was annoyed at the non-call, and the momentum shift for Tonga.

“I was disappointed in try in second half because I thought Todd was taken out and it was a bit of a sucker punch for us,” O’Sullivan said.

That try, and the non-try by LaValla were key moments, said O’Sullivan. It could have been 17-13 for the USA, instead of 20-10 Tonga.

But that said, the Eagles did plenty of things all on their own to lose this game. They had good six try-scoring opportunities, and came away with only ten points. They messed up the others thanks to a missed penalty kick, a muffed lineout, a knock-on at the tryline, and a poor maul that resulted in a penalty.

 “We made a lot of unforced errors,” lamented O’Sullivan. “And we really lost our shape at the end and they got two quick tries at the end. So overall I was disappointed in the performance. We made a lot of unforced errors, turnovers, knock-ons, forward passes. I thought we made good tackles in the middle of the field. A lot of the problems we had were our own making. We’re not accurate in our set piece, not accurate in ball in hand, not accurate in defense.”

So, Why?
The reasons why the USA performance was so lacking are varied. O’Sullivan pointed out that he had made 13 changes from the previous game, and the team just wasn’t together enough. It’s worth noting that the two starters who started against the England Saxons, Scott LaValla and Colin Hawley, played quite well.

Captain Todd Clever pointed out that the team had been running two-a-days throughout their assembly, and were tired. O’Sullivan said there is likely something to that.

And observation shows that the backs just weren’t lining up right. They’d line up with a little depth and see balls dropped because the pass led too much. So the receivers would move up, while the passers would slow down to be sure of their passes. Result? Forward pass.

Scoring chances went begging because the lineout was changed from the Saxons game, and the timing was off.

And part of the problem was the tactics. O’Sullivan specifically wanted scrumhalf Tim Usasz to kick, because he wanted to add the scrumhalf kicking to the team’s repertoire of ways to get out of their 22. Usasz kicked, and Tonga rammed that ball right down the USA’s throat.

And then there was the late penalty. The Eagles were right on the Tonga line when they got a penalty under the posts. The score was 30-10, meaning the USA needed to score three times to catch Tonga. O’Sullivan insisted on a penalty kick, reasoning that he wanted to come away with something. Nese Malifa duly slotted the goal, leaving his team behind by 17, meaning they still needed to score three times to catch Tonga.

O’Sullivan also wanted to change his team’s approach a little to keep oppositions guessing. Unfortunately, there is no guesswork involved. To play the Eagles you need to be patient yet physical on defense, and they will turn the ball over. And to score against them you need to flood the outside channels, because it is on the wing that the USA is giving up its tries.
 

The Good News?
The USA team now has nine days of training in which to change things and adjust. That time should produce a more cohesive team. Right now only a select few – LaValla, Tim Stanfill, Paul Emerick, Colin Hawley – can have been said to have played at all well. Roland Suniula was thrust into the fullback roll and didn’t do badly, and Nic Johnson ensured the scrums weren't worse. Many of the other players were way under their normal performances.

O’Sullivan, for his part, isn’t too concerned (a little, but not a lot).

“This is not the World Cup,” he said. “We are not a finished product. So we still need to try out combinations and strategies. We might try a strategy and see if it works out for us. This is the time to do it.”

At times the USA looked like a team that could cause some damage, but their building blocks were too fragile, their cohesion not there. With three months until the World Cup opens for them, that fragility must go away very soon.


 
Written by Will Dietrich-Egensteiner    Thursday, 09 June 2011 01:46    PDF Print Write e-mail
West Fields Two Teams in Men's NCASC
Colleges - All-Stars

The West has the unique opportunity of fielding two teams in this year’s Men’s Collegiate All Star Championship. Due to the Combined Services team dropping out and the U20s being unavailable, head coach Jim Snyder was asked if he could field a second West team to fill the seventh seed.

 “It was a challenge at first to draft a net wide enough to bring in enough guys to field two teams,” Snyder said. “It’s also made the last two days of training pretty strenuous from a coaching and organizational standpoint.”

 Just because the West is fielding two teams does not mean that one is a B-side though. Snyder said that the coaching staff did their best to make thing even between the two sides. He said that West’s second team has the same chance as West 1 of winning Tier 2.

 “Last year we brought in two teams but one was a developmental team,” Snyder said. “It was a lot less organized. That was more of a B-side team. This year the teams are equal.”

 The players to keep an eye on in team one will be Kyle Hitt of Northern Colorado and Jack White from Benedictine College, even though they come from smaller programs. Team two has enlisted Paul Mullen at prop. Mullen was in the U20 side that competed in Georgia in the Junior World Rugby Trophy.

 West 1 takes on the Northeast All Star team at 10 a.m. MDT at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, while West 2 goes up against the Mid-Atlantic All Stars at 12 p.m. MDT.

West 1:
Forwards:
Joe Bach (Oklahoma)
Stephen Karas (Colorado State)
Justin Silva (University of Colorado)
Reginald Bryant (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Ryan Russomanno (Air Force)
Jackson Bristol (Air Force)
Blake Hodges (Oklahoma)
Daniel Kloeckener (University of Missouri- Columbia)
Andres Diaz (Texas A&M)
Jeff Easthagen (Texas State)
Michael Sangaline (Colorado)
Dakota Wilkinson (Oklahoma)

Backs:
Ryan Walker (Colorado State)
Jimmy Harrison (Saint Louis University)
Hunter Leland (Texas A&M)
Kyle Hitt (Northern Colorado)
Erwin Schmidt (Nebraska-Lincoln)
Stephen Mahoney (Texas)
Jack White (Benedictine)
Luke Lahman (Colorado)
Arrynn Wilkinson (Oklahoma)
Tim Telaneus (Texas A&M)
Joseph D’Agostino (Kansas State)

West 2:
Forwards:
Alexis Mendoza (Texas at Austin)
Brian Wanless (Colorado)
Paul Mullen (Texas A&M at Galveston)
Daniel Knapp (Kansas State)
Jackson Bristol (Air Force)
Scott Lynch (Texas)
Matt Brotemarkle (Missouri- Columbia)
Caleb Childers (Pittsburg State)
Jason Kirker (St. Edwards)
Michael Sangaline (Colorado)

Backs:
Ryan Parkhouse (Regis University)
Jimmy Harrison (St. Louis)
David Zimmerman (Northern Colorado)
Alex DeGuire (St. Louis)
David McDonough (Truman State)
Noah Villalobos (Texas at Austin)
Andrew Markham (Nebraska)
Marques Vieira (Colorado State)
Chris Wenglasz (Red Rocks Community College)
Bradley Henry (Oklahoma)
Benjamin Pacheco (Wyoming)
Conor Mills (Texas A&M)


 
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 19:10    PDF Print Write e-mail
New Face in USA Camp
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News

 
Written by Will Dietrich-Egensteiner    Wednesday, 08 June 2011 19:32    PDF Print Write e-mail
NRU Looks to NCASC Challenge
Colleges - All-Stars

The Men’s Collegiate All Star Championship kicks off Thursday with the Northeast taking on the West at 10 am MDT at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo.

Northeast head coach Mike Hodgins of the University of Buffalo has put together a strong squad based on coaches’ recommendations, a training/selection camp held on Memorial Day weekend and how well the players performed throughout their league seasons.

One player who can have a big impact is Bryan McCorckle of Hobart College. Despite playing for a smaller program, the winger is making his second consecutive All Star Championship appearance.

 When asked how this All Star team is shaping up compared to previous ones, Hodgins said, “Well it’s hard to tell because we haven’t had as many training games and practices as we have in past years. We haven’t had a lot of time to train together, but when we have, the team has practiced well.”

 A number of players on the team, such as the ones from Buffalo, Harvard and Dartmouth, have recent playoff experience that will serve the team well.

Forwards:
Mike Compton (SUNY Cortland)
Luke Gagstetter (College at Brockport)
Brian McIlvain (Stony Brook)
Matthew Papas (University of Connecticut)
Daniel Levine-Spound (Brown)
Kyle Corbett (College at Brockport)
Eric Soto (Stony Brook)
Landon Turley (Brown)
Andrew Kozak (Stony Brook)
Derek Lipscomb (Columbia)
Bobby McMahon (Columbia)
Colin Murray (Iona)
Matt Agugliaro (University at Buffalo)
Wesley Haughton (American International University)

Backs:
Gabe Cunningham (Harvard)
Chris Rosa (Southern Connecticut)
Michael Burbank (Dartmouth)
Kyle Harris (Syracuse)
Shawn Verma (Iona)
Dow Travers (Brown)
Conor Russomanno (Columbia)
Ryan Vandersloot (Yale)
Tyler Norris (University at Buffalo)
Bryan McCorckle (Hobart College)
Aaron Smith (St. Anselm College)



 
Written by Alex Goff    Wednesday, 08 June 2011 18:23    PDF Print Write e-mail
Italian Up-and-Comer Looks at USA Options
Colleges - College News
Rodwell is a punishing runner with professional experience



Playing rugby professionally might be a dream for many, but it’s not a perfect dream for some.

Take Sebastian Rodwell. Rodwell is a 20-year-old center who spent the past season playing center for Cavallieri in the top Italian league. He was a regular selection for the Italian U20 team until he aged out, helping them to a FIRA European title in 2009 and a Junior World Trophy title in 2010.

This spring he was called up to the Italy A side for the Churchill Cup … and decided not to accept. Why? Because Rodwell also qualifies for the USA (he has a German mother, English father, lives in Italy, and was born in California). He has, this past year, grown concerned that young professionals in Italy can be treated like so much cattle, with little thought given to their futures should they get injured, or simply lose form.

“I knew if I played for Italy A in just one game, I would be locked in with Italy for the rest of my life,” Rodwell told RUGBYMag.com. “What I wanted to do instead was get an education. I wanted to keep my options open to play for the USA, and I wanted to come to the United States to attend college and play rugby.”

Rodwell is a 6-2, 230-pound center who loves the contact. His game centers around running hard into large groups of tacklers, and forcing three or four to spend effort to bring him down. He has parlayed that into a professional contract, but is willing to leave that life to go to college in the USA.

“I would like to combine rugby with a study program here in a America,” said Rodwell, who attended the USA 7s CRC just to get an idea of what the college game is like. “The structures in Italy don’t combine sports with studying. That’s what America is really good at. This event today is all college teams where players play rugby and study.”

Rodwell’s father was attending college in UC Davis (studying winemaking, which is what he does now) when Sebastian was born. Therefore he qualifies for the USA. He helped Cavallieri finish 2nd in the Italian league this year.

“It was all very exciting,” he said. “But you look around. There’s so many players who get injured. It’s easy for a player that’s made it. But I was told I should try it for two or three years, and then if it doesn’t work out, you try something else, and that’s not a good answer. I didn’t want to spend all my time just training and going home and sitting on the sofa and watching TV.”

Rodwell said his attributes center around attacking the line and playing tough defense. He is also a 7s player, having attended an Italian national camp.

“There could be a chance for me in 7s, too; I’ve got to learn a lot more about how 7s works, but the ball is the same,” he said.

Rodwell and his father came to the USA to meet with coaches, and he has met with a few already.

“It’s difficult because English is not my first language,” he said. “Speaking to a lot of people can be difficult. But I am excited, and I am excited about this 7s event, to see so many people here and that it’s one TV is great.”

Rodwell is now looking to cross how own Rubicon and make a go of it in the USA. He is a big, hard-running center with a solid international pedigree. But what has brought him to the USA is not the prospect of a supposedly easy cap, Rather, he is looking to this country to offer what it has always offered: opportunity. Rugby is important, sure, but secondary. He wants an education, and hopes rugby can provide it.

 


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