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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Great Weekend for USA Eagles Wyles and MacGinty

It's been a pretty heady couple of weeks for former USA Eagle Chris Wyles. Two weeks ago, he became only the second American to win a European Club Championship(After Dan Lyle with Bath against Brive in 1998) with Saracens.

Wyles and his Saracens team followed up their win in Lyon two weeks ago with 28-20 win over first time finalists Exeter. This was the first European/Domestic double since London Wasps in 2004.

Wyles could not be denied on a nice try towards the end of the first half, when he was not held down in the tackle, and rumbled in for a try in the corner off some nice work from Nowell and Slade.
Saracens raise the English Premiership Trophy

Former long-time USA Eagle Chris Wyles
Up the road in Edinburgh this past weekend. The final for the Pro 12 final played out at Murrayfield in an All-Irish battle between Connacht and Leinster. 

Connacht has been the weak little sister of Irish Rugby compared to Munster, Leinster and Ulster for a long time. At the beginning of the season, not many people would have picked Connacht to make this final against the highly decorated team from Dublin. Even fewer people at the beginning of the season would have imagined that the fly half for Connacht would be AJ MacGinty, the Dublin-born, former member of the New York Athletic Club and Life University in Marietta, Georgia. (He qualified to play for the USA Eagles based on the Residency rules) 

MacGinty played well for the USA in the 2015 World Cup, and parlayed his form with the Eagles into a contract with Connacht. 

After dumping the defending champions, Glasgow in the Semi-finals, Connacht showed that their number one seed was not a fluke. They came out hard against the men from Dublin-who had Ireland fly half Sexton wearing the number 10 shirt. 

The Men from Galway played some great attacking rugby and had early scores from O'Halloran and Adeolokun to get the early advantage. Later on in the first half, MacGinty saw some space in the Leinster back line and chipped a wonderful grubber past
Macginty caught Leinster napping on this grubber leading to a try
the Dubliners that Matt Healy touched down for the third Connacht try of the afternoon. 

MacGinty had an overall sold match for Dublin. He missed his try conversions, but did hit a penalty
and played some good Defense
for Connacht to help the Galway side win their first ever Pro 12 title.

Unfortunately for Connacht fans, AJ MacGinty won't be around for a title defense next season, as he has signed a contract with Sale Sharks and will be playing his club rugby in the English Premeiership. As a USA Eagles fan, I am thrilled that we have a top flight fly half wearing the red, white and blue. For American Rugby fans, MacGinty may be the best Irish import since U2 or Guinness.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rugby 7's...Of Flying Fijians and improved USA Eagles....

The HSBC Rugby Sevens wrapped up last week in London, with Scotland showing a great deal of heart in scoring 2 tries in the last 30 seconds to shock South Africa and win their first ever Sevens Series cup final. Scotland fans could wave the flag of Saint Andrews with pride.
My wife with the Saint Andrew's Flag in Newcastle in October, 2015.

With the next big Sevens event to be at the Olympics in Rio in August, the top 8 Standings looked like this:

1. Fiji
2. South Africa
3. New Zealand
4. Australia
5. Argentina
6 . USA
7. Kenya
8. England

The Flying Fijians won the overall series title again. When I was at the Vegas Sevens in March, Fiji pretty well left everybody in their dust...
Fiji Leaving Australians in their wake in Vegas...
The USA Eagles continued their improvement in London, as well. They took third place while in the process beat both Fiji and New Zealand in the process at the tournament. When I was in Vegas back in March with my friend Tom Daniels, The Eagles made the semi finals and took fourth. Perry Baker and his improved game along with warp speed to be named on All Series Team. Pretty heady stuff for the former Arena Football's Pittsburgh Power player who has combined with Carlin Isles to give the Yanks a one-two punch with their incredible pace to make this Eagles side a very dangerous team to play.

The one thing from this past HSBC Sevens season is that on their day, there are 6 different teams who have series wins under their belts, so the men's Olympic competition in Rio this summer stands to be very wide open.

Oh yeah, Tom and I plan on being back in Vegas next March as well.
Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas-Home of the Vegas Sevens

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Daughter is a Chip off the Old Block-She plays Rugby too.

When we were still living in Minnesota, I had tried to talk my daughter Rachel into playing rugby. She would have nothing to do with it, in spite of the fact that when I taught touch rugby at her Lutheran School, she had great vision and instincts for the game, and I knew she was strong and tough enough to play the game with her experience working with horses and doing Western Style Riding.
Well, my daughter moved out here to Southern California last year. A few months ago, she got involved with the San Fernando Valley Women's RFC
, and she discovered that she loved the game, and loved the physical contact and Camaraderie of the Oval Ball.
She plays flanker and has great instincts for the game. She plans on playing again next year.

I won't say I told you so...what I will say to my daughter is: I knew you had it in you, kid.