Archives for January 2013

1/23/13 USA Underdogs in the Pacific Nations Cup

The IRB announced yesterday the USA and Canada will join the annual Pacific Nations Cup. Canada is currently ranked 14th in the world and the USA is 16th. The other teams participating are Samoa (7th), Tonga (11th). Fiji (13th), and Japan (15th). This year’s tournament schedule is below. Samoa is not participating this year because they will be touring South Africa.This is great for USA rugby to have a regular competition like the 6 Nations. Interestingly we will be like the Italy of the 6 Nations even though we are the largest nation. Maybe we can hope to pick-off Japan (Scotland) or on a very good day at home Canada (Ireland) but no way will we beat Fiji (Wales), Tonga (France), or Samoa (England). The combined populations of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa would equal a city about the size of Dallas. The USA will also be playing Ireland on June 8th in Houston and Canada in a world cup qualifier in Atlanta on July 20th.  This begins the USA’s path to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in England. If the USA loses the home and away series with Canada (as they have the last two world cups) then they will face two more qualification possibilities. The first is to beat a South American side which will be Uruguay, Chile, or Brazil in a home-away series. If they lose this the Eagles could qualify by defeating the loser of an African-Asian play-off and then a European play-off.

Go Eagles!! 

IRB Pacific Nations Cup 2013 Schedule

Tournament Draw
Date Team A Team B Venue
Saturday, May 25
Japan v Tonga Japan
Canada v USA Canada
Saturday, June 1
Fiji v Japan Fiji
Wednesday, June 5
Fiji v Canada Canada
Saturday, June 8
Canada v Tonga Canada
Saturday, June 15
USA v Tonga USA
Wednesday, June 19
Japan v Canada Japan
Fiji v USA Japan
Sunday, June 23
Japan v USA Japan
Tonga v Fiji Japan

Jan. 2013 – Women in Houston, Men in Vegas, & Canada Between Us and the Olympics

     The current plan for selection of the 12 teams to compete in the 2016 Olympics calls for the top four teams in the 2014-15  Seven’s World Series (SWS)  to have automatic qualification. The USA women are 9th after one stop on the  4 stop 2012-13 women’s SWS. The USA men are 11th after 3 stops on the men’s 2012-13 SWS which has 9 stops.

     If the US teams don’t make the top 4 in the 2014-15 SWS,  they will have to win the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) tournament in 2015 or early 2016.  Barring the rapid rise of a Caribbean team or Mexico, the main obstacle for both the men and women will be Canada. Canada is ranked one spot ahead of the USA men in this season’s SWS and Canada’s women are 6th after the first stop on the women’s tour.

The top four teams in the current SWS in January, 2013 are:

Men – New Zealand, France, Fiji, South Africa

Women – New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Australia

With a little over 2 years to go until the end of the 2014-15 SWS it is highly unlikely that the US teams will be cracking the top 4. The women perhaps got off to a very poor start in Dubai in Dec. 2012 and will return to a much more competitive form when they return to action in Houston on Feb. 1, 2013, but the men are almost hopelessly out of contention for a top 4 spot for the next decade at least. The men have never been ranked higher than 10th in the 13 years the men’s SWS has existed, and if the US don’t qualify for the Olympics then the general public support and sponsorship that would have developed will be delayed at least another 4 years.

How well do US teams do against the Canadians?

In the past 6 months the US men have played the Canadians 4 times and lost 3.

8/26/12                Canada 26           USA 19  (L)     Ottawa

10/12/12              Canada 22           USA 21  (L)      Australia

11/30/12              Canada 26           USA 7    (L)       Dubai

12/8/12                Canada 12           USA 26  (W)    South Africa

The US women haven’t faced the Canadians in the past 6 months. In Dubai at the end of November both sides faced the Australian women. The US side lost 15 to 7 and Canada lost 14 to 10. At the Amsterdam 7s in June, 2012, the Eagles lost 26-19 to the Maple Leafs in the final.  An article by a staff writer for the  Canadian sport channel The Sport Network referred to the USA women as upstarts and listed England as Canada’s main rival.

The following is a link to the match on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s-JUqVPqII

If the Olympic qualifying matches were held in the next few months, the Canadians would be the favorites.

On Feb. 1st Houston hosts the second stop of the innaugural 2012-13 women’s SWS and on Feb. 8th Las Vegas hosts the 5th stop on the men’s SWS. The women have the most to prove in this first year of their SWS, Dubai was a dismal start for the country that won the initial women’s World Cup in 1991. The US men’s best finish in the previous 13 years of the SWS was 10th in 2009-10. In the 112 cup finals that have been played since the inception of  the men’s  SWS the USA men have been in one.  On March 21, 2010, the Eagles lost to Samoa in the cup  final in Australia 36-10.

In the upcoming men and women SWS tournaments,  we can certainly hope that both sides will capture the Cup, but the chances of that happening are slim. Realistically it can be hoped that after both men and women have spent a month at the Olympic training center getting ready for this season’s SWS with a longer view to Olympic qualification, they will have a showing that moves them ahead of Canada or at least demonstrates the training plan is clearly developing sides that will easily defeat Canada easily in 2015.