This Saturday, October 23, at 3:30 PM ET the USA Eagles will face off against the New Zealand All Blacks at FedEx Field in Washington DC.
The NOLA Gold has five members representing the team on the international stage for the USA—the most out of any MLR team—with Matt Harmon, Andrew Guerra, and Cam Dolan all slated to start in the match this Saturday. Dino Waldren and Moni Tonga’uiha are also on the roster, listed as reserve prop and reserve flanker.
The USA vs New Zealand test match is the first stop on the All Black’s northern tour—a five-game stretch of international matchups.
In an article by Stuff, a publication from New Zealand, Eagle’s head coach Gary Gold said:
“We need competitions and we need a high level of competition regularly, otherwise we’re not going to get better…That’s why tests like this are so incredibly important to us,”
“It’s a chicken and egg scenario because a lot of the better teams aren’t going to want to play us until we get better, but we’re not going to get better until we play that caliber of teams.”
“It may not look like it after 80 minutes of rugby in Washington, but in the long run, this will have an incredibly powerful effect on all of our players… To get a cap against the All Blacks makes a huge difference and that experience will resonate.”
Gold’s sentiment about growing the sport in the states is echoed by USA Rugby’s announcement that it is launching a bid to host the World Cup in either 2027 or 2031. If the bid is accepted, the United States would become the first country in either North or South America to host the men’s tournament.
In an article by USA Rugby, Eagle’s head coach Gary Gold was asked about the team’s preparation for the test match Saturday:
“Facing the No. 2 team in the world is an incredible challenge for anyone and, as we’ve said many times, these are the high-pressure situations we want to put ourselves in,”
“Matches like these can be a true test of character as they force split-second decisions in intense and hectic environments. This is an exciting opportunity for us to expose our younger players to the best in the world while allowing our experienced guys to be leaders and help guide the cohesion of the group.”
“We are under no illusions for what lies ahead on Saturday. Our preparation has gone well, the spirit in the group is high and we look forward to having a vibrant and vocal home crowd behind us in the nation’s capital.”
The Eagles faced off against Uruguay in the Americas 1 qualifiers on October 2 in Colorado, and October 9 in Montevideo—each team won a match.
Uruguay, however, came out with the higher combined score from the two matches, securing the Americas 1 spot and qualifying for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The USA Eagles can still forge a path to France, by winning in the Americas 2 Playoff against Chile.
Chile defeated Canada in the Americas 2 Qualifier. The winner of the Americas 2 Playoff will earn a spot in Pool D for the World Cup.
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