All Quiet On the Western Front
It was a fairly slow week for Americans overseas as breaks from league action and injuries kept most Americans off the pitch.
For one American, the quiet will continue, as it was his last weekend in Europe. Kevin Swiryn announced his retirement from professional rugby last week citing chronic injuries that have kept him out of much of the last two seasons. Swiryn began his rugby career at St. Mary’s where he burst onto the scene as one of the most talent players in college. His strong play eventually got him a spot on the U.S.A. 7’s team, where he really developed into his own.
After captaining the team for several seasons, Swiryn signed a contract to play with Agen in the Top 14 at the start of the 2010-11 season with an eye to getting 15’s form for the World Cup. He played well that first season but injuries limited his time. He was able to recover in time to appear in the World Cup, but soon after returning to Agen he picked up several injuries that eventually forced him to retire effective at the end of the season.
Swiryn will return stateside to Seattle. It’s sad to see an American, especially someone as good as Swiryn, be forced to leave the game early, but we wish him luck in all his endeavors!
While Swiryn’s retirement was the big news in France, Taku Ngwenya quietly put in another start and 80 minutes for a resurgent Biarritz team. The Basque side beat Brive 26-11 to climb a little further from the relegation zone.
Elsewhere in France, Scott LaValla continues to get time with Stade Francais after playing 22 minutes off the bench as his team beat Lyon 40-19.
Seta Tuilevuka did not dress for Montpellier as they defeated Bayonne 37-26. Tuilevuka has been slowed by injuries all season.
In the Pro D2, Inaki Basauri started and played 72 minutes for a struggling Perigueuz team that lost to Oyonnax 43-7.
In England, the start of the RFU Championship saw all the Americans’ teams involved in the push for promotion. Andrew Suniula returned from injury and played 25 minutes off the bench as the Cornish Pirates drew with Leeds 21-21. Robbie Shaw (back) and Mike MacDonald (wrist) were out injured and did not play for Leeds.
Shawn Pittman was also injured and missed his playoff match for London Welsh as they beat Nottingham 32-21.
In the National 1 competition, Tim Usasz coached his last-place team to a big 22-20 victory over league-leaders, and promotion favorites, Jersey. It was a big win for the young coach!
The annual match between Oxford and Trinity (Dublin) saw Derek Asburn start and Jason Law come off the bench for Oxford as they lost 15-21.
Elsewhere in the British Isles, Paul Emerick (Wasps), Chris Wyles and Hayden Smith (Saracens) had the weekend off in the Aviva Premiership.
Samu Manoa and Chris Biller’s Northampton side beat Scarlets 27-12 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals but Manoa was rested and not in the game day squad and Biller did not dress. The Saints play Leicester in the final.
Lastly, Tommy Seymour (Glasgow) and Hanno Dirksen (Ospreys) had the weekend off.