Eagles fall to Romania 20-22 in first home test of the year

Sat, Jul 6, 2024, 3:22 AM
by Taylor Dean
Calder Cahill/USA Rugby
Calder Cahill/USA Rugby

In their first home test since 2022, the USA Men’s Eagles fell just a few points short to Romania, who took the Pershing Cup home with a 20-22 win against the Eagles on Friday. 

It was a game of opportunity and penalty kicks that Romania ultimately dominated despite an energetic start by the Eagles. The Eagles had some positive moments with textbook line outs and a good game plan, but couldn’t complete their plays with a score. Renger van Eerten and JP Smith made their Eagles debuts as starters, putting in some serious work. 

The Eagles will have some work ons as they head to Washington, D.C. for their next stop on the American Series. USA v Scotland kicks off Friday, July 12, at 6:30pm ET, live on FloRugby. 

Comments from Head Coach Scott Lawrence: 

“Generally we weren’t good enough to win the game, Romania were the better team. They were the team that played test rugby and won the game. That’s the difference, that’s a sign of where we are at right now. We have to learn how to play test rugby and what that means, and how it’s different from the professional game. 

The first thing is to recover and make sure we’re fresh for the next game, get back to basics, and try to do the simple things well.” 

Comments from Captain Greg Peterson:

“It was really just us trying to get out of our own half really clean. We played a little bit too much into their hands, a couple simple errors. It was really just discipline that killed us the most and gave them a little more momentum. Most parts we did really well, we got around the corner of their defensive line. We were able to get over that and get in to score some tries, which was really good, but it was really just discipline that kept us in our own half.” 

Match Recap

Amped up by the home crowd energy, the Eagles had a massively energetic start. Romania conceded a few penalties that put the USA in scoring territory early on. A kick through defenders by Nate Augspurger gave Mitch Wilson the space to score, but an offsides call brought it back. The USA was playing with advantage, so they got a five meter line out and another shot at scoring. A rolling maul got the ball to Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz for the first try of the match, and AJ MacGinty’s conversion put the USA in the lead to start. 

Romania were quick to respond though, and they made their way downfield, and fast offloads were too quick for USA defenders, letting Romania get around on the side to score and tie up the game. 

Romania continued to concede penalties, and gameplay was spent in their territory for most of the first half. Debut JP Smith showed his worth on the field with a great break off a USA maul, but was held up as he went to score, giving Romania a goal-line dropout. Both teams played with a lot of physicality as they fought for possession, and the USA tried to make some massive plays but couldn’t complete the opportunities. 

The Eagles conceded an in-scrum penalty that gave Romania a penalty kick opportunity, adding three points to the opponents’ score and giving them the lead. The USA’s restart kick went far downfield, giving them a territory advantage. The game began to slow down as teams conceded penalties - mainly in the USA favor at this stage. After a few set pieces, the Eagles took a penalty kick and MacGinty added three more points to the USA’s tally to tie up the game. 

The rest of the first half remained scoreless as both teams shut down scoring opportunities. A yellow card to Thomas Tu’avao gave Romania advantage, but the USA kept them away from scoring territory. A USA line out showed hope for the Eagles as AJ MacGinty crossed over the try line off a maul, but Romania held it up. After Romania missed a penalty kick, the USA put up a big defensive effort as the halftime whistle blew. 

The second half began with Romanian possession, who earned a penalty kick, adding three points to their score. Soon after, a Romanian knock on gave the USA another attacking chance. Another penalty gave the USA a line out opportunity, and they stayed strong as Romania attempted to take down their maul. MacGinty finished the play with a try, and converted his own score to add seven points and put the USA back in the lead. 

The Eagles looked re-energized off the score, picking up on defense and trying to play fast. The USA had a good game plan in place as Christian Dyer kicked through to Mitch Wilson, but another penalty gave it back to Romania. Back in scoring territory, Romania put up a good effort but another big defensive stop by the Eagles held up the play and gave them a scrum. With a lot of gameplay happening in USA territory this half, Romania took advantage of penalties to go for kicks and add more points to their tally. 

MacGinty took another penalty kick to take the lead by a few points, and the match turned into a major kicking battle to find who could gain territory, ending with a penalty for Romanian possession. Some scrappy USA play in their own half gave Romania several penalty kick opportunities, ultimately bringing the Romanian’s score up by two points. 

As the clock ticked down, Romania were urgent on defense to keep the USA away from a score, ultimately taking two yellow cards and giving USA a two-man advantage. MacGinty took a shot at a penalty kick but missed, and it would be some attacking play to end the game. Unfortunately the USA were a little too urgent on attack, and a penalty gave the ball back to Romania, who kicked it out to end the game 20-22. 

The USA will take their learnings from the Independence Day weekend test as they head to the nation’s capital to take on Scotland. USA v Scotland kicks off Friday, July 12, at 6:30pm ET, live on FloRugby. 

USA Men’s Eagles Roster | USA v Romania
Name Club Caps
1. Jake Turnbull Anthem RC 6
2. Dylan Fawsitt Chicago Hounds 28
3. Paul Mullen Utah Warriors 35
4. Renger van Eerten CA Brive Rugby (FRA) 1
5. Greg Peterson San Diego Legion 43
6. Sam Golla Dallas Jackals 6
7. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz Old Glory DC 10
8. Thomas Tu’avao Utah Warriors 6
9. JP Smith Seattle Seawolves 1
10. AJ MacGinty Bristol Bears 36
11. Nate Augspurger Chicago Hounds 42
12. Tommaso Boni Old Glory DC 5
13. Tavite Lopeti Seattle Seawolves 13
14. Christian Dyer Houston SaberCats 15
15. Mitch Wilson New England Free Jacks 7
16. Mike Sosene-Feagai Agen (FRA) 10
17. Nate Sylvia San Diego Legion 4
18. Kaleb Geiger New England Free Jacks 4
19. Viliami Helu San Diego Legion 6
20. Ben Bonasso Miami Sharks 6
21. Paddy Ryan San Diego Legion 6
22. Luke Carty Chicago Hounds 17
23. Bryce Campbell Chicago Hounds 46
USA Men’s Staff | 2024 American Series July Internationals

Scott Lawrence | Head Coach

Alama Ieremia | Backs and Attack Coach

Nick Easter | Forwards and Defense Coach

Jono Phillips | Skills Coach

Blake Bradford | Scrum Coach

Alex Ross | Head of Athlete Performance

Jimmy Harrison | Analyst

Rodolfo Broggi | Athlete Performance

Dehra Harris | Performance Psychology

Michael Sheridan | Head Athletic Trainer

Ron Klingensmith | Assistant Athletic Trainer

Deanna Sisti | Assistant Athletic Trainer

Willie Berlanga | Sports Massage Therapist

Steve Levin | Team Doctor

Sam Akhavan | Team Doctor

Oscar Alvarez | Team Manager

USA Men’s Eagles 2024 American Series Schedule

USA vs Romania | 20-22 (L)

USA vs Scotland | July 12, 2024 6:30PM ET

Audi Field, Washington D.C.


Watch LIVE on FloRugby

USA vs Canada | August 31, 2024

Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles, CA