Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A New Direction for USA Rugby...but where ?
Being an American fan of the oval ball can be an exercise in frustration. We have the athletes in this country, but it takes time to develop a rugby culture.
I guess in retrospect, USA rugby was lucky to get an experienced top-fight coach like Eddie O'Sullivan. I think that on the balance, the Irishman did a good job as USA manager. I felt that overall, the USA Eagles played better in New Zealand 2011 than they did in France 4 years ago. They beat Russia, which was to be expected, but the Eagles showed a great deal of heart against a very good Irish squad in an emotional match on 9/11. I was not able to see that game in New Plymouth, but I did see the Eagles play Australia in Wellington and Italy in Nelson.
I thought that O'Sullivan was pragmatic by emptying his bench and going with the young players against the Wallabies. He knew that the game was going to be a blow out-no sense in possibly injuring his best players for their last match against Italy. The young Americans showed some very bright play in the first half against the formidable Australians. True they got blown out in the second half, but I could not fault the effort. Against the Italians, the US had a rough day at the office in the scrum-but to be fair, it's not the first time the Italians formidable front row had made life difficult for a team. They have done it against even the All Blacks in international play.
So the question for USA Rugby is, who will replace Eddie O'Sullivan? I would love to see USA Rugby offer a position to John Kirwan, who recently stepped down as the Japanese Head Coach. I just don't think that USA Rugby has the funds to go after a really top flight coach like a John Kirwan or Nick Mallet. (Hell, if he decided against taking the England position, what chance to we have?)
I would love to see John Kirwan get a shot at the job-if he was interested. Japan, in my opinion, was one of the most improved nations in the past 4 years. I thought they played some great rugby in New Zealand. I just don't think USA Rugby has the funds to get a coach of his caliber.
As an American fan, I am very intrigued by who will be picked to replace Eddie O'Sullivan as USA coach-but given the vacancies at more top tier nations like England and Italy, it will be interesting to see who USA Rugby will pick to lead the Eagles for the Rugby World Cup in England, 2015.