BOULDER, Colo. – Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has named his team that will face Ireland in the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC) opener at 6 p.m. on Sunday September 11 at Stadium Taranaki in New Plymouth. The match will be LIVE online at Universal Sports at 2 a.m EST and tape delayed on TV at 1 p.m EST on NBC and 5 p.m on Universal Sports. View the complete viewing schedule at UniversalSports.com. (Photo Credit: Garry Coldwells)
“Now that we have made our first selection, everyone is looking forward to Sunday’s game. We selected from a full squad, except for Chris Wyles, who is very close to recovering from his injury but not quite there yet,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles, who have been based in Wanganui since arriving on September 3, have had a very productive week on the training field. The facilities at the Wanganui Rugby Union have been excellent, as have the staff supplied by the Rugby NZ 2011. Meanwhile off the field the Eagles have attended several community engagements throughout the week, receiving wonderful support from the people of Wanganui. Thousands greeted the USA team after their Official Welcome Ceremony, which included a waka ride down the Whanganui River. The city has adopted the USA team as their second nation in the RWC.
“Our stay in Wanganui has been hugely enjoyable. The facilities were world-class, and the welcome by the locals was extra-ordinary. The team really felt at home there,” echoed O’Sullivan.
Today the United States traveled to New Plymouth, which will be home for the next ten days, seeing pool matches against Ireland and Russia.
“The excitement in the squad is palpable now that we have arrived in New Plymouth, and accounting down to our first game of RWC 2011,” continued the Head Coach.
The USA team (ranked 18th) that will take on the number 8 team in the world, Ireland, will be lead by Todd Clever.
Prop Mike MacDonald is set to make history by becoming the most capped Eagle of all time. MacDonald will win his 63rd cap for his country, and will honored by leading the Eagles onto the field during Sunday’s match.
“Congratulations to Mike MacDonald for becoming the most capped Eagle of all time. And achieving that honor while playing in a RWC match makes that even more special,” expressed O’Sullivan.
The rest of the front row is made up of Shawn Pittman at prop, and Phil Thiel at hooker. The experienced Hayden Smith and John van der Giessen are the locks. Louis Stanfill starts in the number 6 jersey with Clever on the other flank. Nic Johnson completes the forward pack at 8th man.
Vice-captain and scrumhalf Mike Petri will lead the backline, with Roland Suniula starting in the flyhalf position. The solid center pairing of Andrew Suniula and Paul Emerick will be up against one of Ireland’s most famous players, Brian O’Driscoll.
The dangerous wings are Takudzwa Ngwenya and James Paterson, with Blaine Scully marshalling from the back in the number 15 jersey.
The reserve bench includes four forwards and three backs. Mate Moeakiola (prop) and Chris Biller (hooker) provide front row cover. Scott LaValla and Pat Danahy are the lock and loose forward replacements. In the backs the reserves are Tim Usasz (scrumhalf), Nese Malifa (flyhalf) and Colin Hawley (utility).
The RWC opening ceremony takes place tonight, followed by the All Blacks playing Tonga. The Eagles are in Pool C with Australia, Italy, Russia and Ireland.
Both the USA and Irish National Teams will honor those rugby men and women who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by wearing a black armband and observing a moment of silence before the kick-off. The Eagles will also attend a 9-11 Memorial Service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in New Plymouth on Sunday morning.
15 Blaine Scully (Unattached)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz)
13 Paul Emerick (Life University)
12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
11 James Paterson (Highlanders)
10 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
9 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)
1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie)
2 Phil Thiel (Life University)
3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
4 John van der Giessen (Unattached)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)
6 Louis Stanfill (Unattached)
7 Todd Clever (Suntory Sungoliath) *Captain
8 Nic Johnson (Unattached)
16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)
17 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93)
18 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
19 Pat Danahy (Life University)
20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC)
21 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
22 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
Unavailable through injury: Chris Wyles (Saracens)
15 Geordan Murphy
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Brian O'Driscoll *Captain
12 Gordon D'Arcy
11 Keith Earls
10 Jonathan Sexton
9 Conor Murray
1 Tom Court
2 Rory Best
3 Mike Ross
4 Donncha O'Callaghan
5 Paul O'Connell
6 Stephen Ferris
7 Shane Jennings
8 Jamie Heaslip
16 Jerry Flannery
17 Tony Buckley
18 Donnacha Ryan
19 Denis Leamy
20 Eoin Reddan
21 Ronan O'Gara
22 Andrew Trimble
USA Rugby's broadcast partner, NBC Universal, will be showing all four USA warm-up matches LIVE online or tape delayed through UniversalSports.com!
RWC 2011 SCHEDULE | NEW ZEALAND
September 11, 2011: USA vs. Ireland (New Plymouth) 18.00
September 15, 2011: USA vs. Russia (New Plymouth) 19.30
September 23, 2011: USA vs. Australia (Wellington) 20.30
September 27, 2011: USA vs. Italy (Nelson) 19.30