June 2, 2013 An Opportunity for the Future – USA v Ireland

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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