Ireland vs USA – An Opportunity for the Future
Plenty has been written about the illusion of a depleted Irish side. The 28 Irish players coming to Houston bring a total 215 caps in comparison to the 320 caps collected by the 28 Eagles selected to possibly represent the USA on June 8, 2013. (Cap count for Irish players from the Ireland website & for the USA from Wikipedia.) The Irish have 18 tourists with 5 or fewer caps and six will be looking for their first cap. The USA has 13 players with 5 or fewer caps and 4 looking for their first cap. (FYI – The 10 Irish players touring with the British & Irish Lions have a total of 552 caps.)
Although the cap count favors the USA, the imaginary scale that weighs the importance of this match to each individual player is tilted to the Irish. To find a spot on the Irish side after the Irish Lions return from Australia will necessitate nothing less than an outstanding performance against a tier 2 side. For the Eagles the match ultimately means little. Few pundits give the Eagles much of a chance. A major upset over an Irish side will only be a temporary lift. Media will downplay the victory because the Irish stars are absent . A critical injury to a key USA player will call into question the wisdom of playing a star before important world cup qualifying matches against Canada, especially if it is a professional player just returning from the European season via a BaaBaa’s match in Hong Kong.
This section of the www.deepsouthrugby.net website focuses on the Eagles’ world cup efforts. In England in 2015 I would love to see the Eagles make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in what would be their 7th world cup appearance. The best chance for this to happen is to defeat Canada home and away in August and end up America #1 in Pool D with France, Ireland, Italy, & Europe 2 (probably Russia or Georgia). The other qualification options are Pool B as America #2 against South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, and Asia 1 (probably Japan). This pool is not much more difficult than Pool D, but if by an unlucky ball bounce we lose the home and away series against the South American winner (Uruguay or Chile), we would be thrown into a qualification battle for a spot in Pool A with Australia, England, Wales, and Oceania #1 (Tonga or Fiji).
When I started this article this morning, the lovely Yorkshire lass I call my wife reminded me of how rarely I have pulled on the coach’s cleats. With that warning well in mind, I humbly submit the following as an approach to the Ireland match with a view to future world cup success … play the youngest players. None of the men suggested below will be over 30 in 2015.
Sample starting line-up with age:
15 Blaine Scully 25
14 Luke Hume 25
13 Seamus Kelly 22
12 Toby L’Estrange 24
11 James Patteron 26
10 Adam Sidall 24
9 Will Holder 22
8 John Quill 23
7 Cameron Dolan 23
6 Liam Murphy 24
5 Scott LaValla 24
4 Graham Harrison 26
3 Shawn Pittman 25
2 Zach Fenoglio 23
1 Nick Wallace 23
Mentoring from the bench and ready to come on if things go wanky: Clever, Wyles, Ngwenya, Petri, Suniula, Fry, Biller, Manoa, Stanfill … oops, two too many, but you get the idea.
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