USA Rugby World Cup 2015 Performance Review

Eric Villarreal ‘16

Position Group Grades:

Props: B-

Titi Lamositele had a solid showing in his three matches. He made 9 carries over the gainline for 32 meters, which is good for a prop, as well as scoring a try. His defense was solid, but it should, and will, improve going forward. Eric Fry didn’t perform as well as he could have in this World Cup. He converted 81% of his tackles which is average for a prop and also received a yellow card. His efforts in attack were solid as he had 4 carries over the gainline for 18 meters. Chris Baumann was average at best. He was able to score a try, but only made 3 carries over the gainline for 5 meters and gave up a crucial knock-on that otherwise would’ve resulted in a try against Scotland. Baumann was solid in defence, but his overall performance was nothing to write home about. Oli Kilifi was slightly worse than Baumann, which was disappointing to say the least. He was great in defense by converting 92% of his tackles and made 5 carries over the gainline, but for only 10 meters and he also gave up TWO crucial knock-ons right in front of the try line that would’ve resulted in a couple of tries against Scotland. Overall, the prop play was solid, but a bit disappointing.

Hooks: D-

Neither Phil Thiel nor Zach Fenoglio looked able to throw a proper lineout. Fenoglio was solid in attack and Thiel was able to score a try. Both were solid in defence and scrums, but the reason for the barely passing grade is because both were so bad at lineouts that they became liabilities. If the hooks can’t perform one of their basic duties, then it becomes detrimental to the team as a whole.

Locks: B+

Hayden Smith was average overall. His defence was solid and he made 6 carries over the gainline, but for only 11 meters. Greg Peterson broke out during the World Cup. He converted 85% of his tackles, made 7 carries over the gainline, and stole the lineout that led to one of the tries of the tournament against Samoa. That being said, he only gained 9 meters in attack, but was great in every other aspect of the game. Louis Stanfill was unsatisfactory against South Africa. He only converted 80% of his tackles and only made 3 carries over the gainline. Matt Trouville was awful to say the least. To keep things short and sweet, he converted 79% of his tackles and only 1 carry over the gainline for 1 meter… a total non-factor. Cam Dolan was USA’s supersub for the entire tournament and should’ve started at least 1 match. He converted 96% of his tackles and tied for second in turnovers won with 3! He also had a solid 7 carries over the gainline for 18 meters. The breakout performances of Greg Peterson and Cam Dolan is what gives this group a high grade, but the others keep this group from getting an A.

Flankers: A-

Al McFarland had a breakout campaign, and should be getting some calls from Europe to play professionally. He had 8 carries over the gainline for 39 meters, converted 86% of his tackles, and was the second best on the team with 3 turnovers won. Andrew Durutalo carried over his great rugby sevens form to rugby fifteens. His defense was tremendous by converting 88% of his tackles, and lead the team with 6 turnovers won! He was great in attack too, with 11 carries over the gainline for 57 meters. Watch out for him in the 2016 Olympics as the USA Sevens look to take the gold in Rio. Another fantastic sevens player who was also on the RWC squad is Danny Barrett. He seemed to be playing out of position at flanker, as he’s better suited for Eight, but could only get playing time at the flanker position. He was unsatisfactory in defense by converting 80% of his tackles, but he was able to make 6 carries over the gainline for 45 meters and beat 5 defenders. John Quill played bravely in defence by converting 89% of his tackles, but seemed to lack in attack with 3 carries over the gainline for only 6 meters.

Eight: A

Samu Manoa played admirably and captained the team against South Africa. His only blemish that kept him from getting an A+ is he didn’t score any tries, which is quite the contrary when he plays club rugby. He was good in defence by converting 87% of his tackles.  In attack, he had 26 carries over the gainline for 121 meters, and even won a lineout from one of the awful hooks.

Scrum-halves: C-

Mike Petri was able to run the offense smoothly, however he didn’t make many runs himself which limited his contributions. Shalom Suniula could never get the attack into any sort of flow during his limited time at scrum-half. Niku Kruger attempted to make some runs and get the offense flowing, but was doomed from the start against world power, South Africa, because he played with most of the backups.

Fly-halves: B-

AJ MacGinty showed a lot of promise in his 3 matches at fly-half. He led the team in scoring with 25 total points scored. He converted 7 penalty kicks, but made only 2 of 5 conversion kicks. He was solid in defence with 80% of his tackles being converted and was able to kick the ball into touch 23 times. He made 4 carries over the gainline for 82 meters, beat 6 defenders, and one of his clean breaks was able to manufacture a try. Shalom Suniula didn’t seem capable of doing anything in attack against South Africa and was horrific in defence by converting only 62% of his tackles.

Centers: B

Thretton Palamo proved himself as a powerful inside center by having 8 carries over the gainline for 62 meters and beating 8 defenders in attack. However, his defense was hit and miss. He converted only 63% of his tackles. Although the tackles he made were sensational, it is unacceptable that he missed over ⅓ of his tackles. Seamus Kelly had a breakout campaign and should be gaining interest from Europe’s professional clubs. He was amazing in attack, having 13 carries over the gainline for 134 meters, 3 clean breaks, and beating 6 defenders. His defense was solid as well, as he converted 83% of his tackles. Andrew Suniula was serviceable in attack, but proved to be a great defender against South Africa by converting 91% of his tackles. Folau Niua was an utter non-factor in attack, but converted 100% of his tackles.

Wings: A-

Captain Chris Wyles lead the Eagles with 2 tries and gained 168 meters on 8 carries over the gainline while sharing time at blindside wing and fullback. Vice-Captain Blaine Scully started at blindside wing in the game against Scotland. Wyles seemed the more able winger while Scully seemed to be taken out of the game at wing. Zack Test stepped in admirably in the final two matches at blindside wing. He played strong defense and was able to break the gainline 9 times for 84 meters in attack. Taku Ngwenya had a strong performance in his 3 matches at outside wing. He only had 4 carries over the gainline, but accumulated 132 meters and a try in attack. In defence, Ngwenya was electrifying with multiple big hits and converted 82% of his tackles. Brett Thompson started at outside wing against South Africa and showed he was more than serviceable in defence by converting 86% of his tackles.

Fullbacks: B+

Both Scully and Wyles started 2 games each at fullback. Wyles was solid in defence by converting 82% of his tackles and scored one of his tries at fullback. Blaine Scully was the better fullback and continued to play the ball strongly in the air. His best performance was ironically in the 64-0 blowout loss to South Africa. He was a bit disappointing in defence by converting only 75% of his tackles, but he had 9 carries over the gainline for 150 meters. If he didn’t leave that game with a head injury, then the score probably would’ve been a little more respectable.

Quick Game by Game Recaps:

USA vs. Samoa: L, 16-25

Samoa jumped out to an 11-0 lead by scoring a try and converting two penalty kicks. AJ MacGinty got USA on the board by converting a penalty kick. Chris Wyles then cut the lead to three by capping off a great team try. Samoa converted another penalty kick to make the score 14-8 going into the half.

In the second half, Samoa came out and scored another try and converted another penalty to make the score 22-8. MacGinty then slotted another penalty kick to cut the lead in half. Samoa then takes back the three points to make the score 25-11. Chris Baumann scores a try with seven minutes left cut the lead to nine points, but MacGinty missed the conversion kick which would’ve made it a one possession game.

USA vs. Scotland: L, 16-39

MacGinty opens the scoring by converting a penalty kick. Scotland comes back and slots 2 penalty kicks. Titi Lamositele then puts USA in the lead with a try and MacGinty converts making the score 10-6. MacGinty slots another penalty kick to make the score 13-6 going into the half.

Two minutes into the second half, Scotland scores a try then scores another five minutes later and slot the conversion kick on the second try of the half to make the score 18-13. MacGinty then converts another penalty kick to cut the lead to two. Scotland answer with another try and conversion kick to make the score 25-16. Ten minutes later, Scotland scored another try and conversion kick making the score 32-16. In the last minute of regulation, Scotland ran up the score again with a try and conversion kick.

USA vs. South Africa: L, 0-64

Shalom Suniula misses a penalty kick three minutes into the game. South Africa opens the scoring with a try and conversion kick. Niku Kruger misses USA’s second penalty kick. South Africa is awarded a penalty try and slots the conversion in the 27th minute. USA hold their own for the rest of the half with the score 14-0 after 40 minutes.

Bryan Habana opens the scoring for the second half for South Africa with a try and the conversion kick is made. South Africa scores again six minutes later, but misses the conversion. Five minutes later, South Africa strikes again with a try and conversion. Another five minutes goes by and South Africa keeps running up the score with another Habana try and conversion kick. Habana finishes off the hat-trick with a try two minutes later and conversion with the score now 47-0. South Africa caps off the remaining 19 minutes with 3 tries and one more conversion kick.

USA vs. Japan:L, 18-28

AJ MacGinty gets USA on the board first in the 5th minute with a penalty kick. Japan answers with a try and conversion kick two minutes later. Taku Ngwenya puts USA back in the lead with a try making the score now 8-7. Japan quickly responds with a try and conversion kick four minutes later. Japan converts a penalty kick in the 33rd minute making the score 17-8 going into the half.

Japan are the first to score in the second half with penalty kick three minutes in. USA slots a penalty kick in the 55th minute, making the score 20-11. Japan strikes again with another try, but misses the conversion kick in the 62nd minute. Ten minutes later, Chris Wyles scores a try and MacGinty slots the conversion kick cutting the lead to 25-18. Japan closes the coffin on USA with a penalty kick in the 76th minute to increase their lead to ten points.

Stats courtesy of and

USA Eagles Rugby World Cup 2015 Highlight Video-