The USA Men’s Eagles completed a successful tour at La Vila International Rugby Cup, clinching the trophy with a 42-12 final win over hosts Spain.
Led by Captain Nate Brakeley, who announced his retirement from international rugby at the conclusion of the tour, the Eagles had a shaky start Saturday but rebounded to dominate the match. Chris Mattina, who was strong in support and from the boot, earned five points for the Eagles through a conversion and penalty kick, later earning himself Player of the Match honors.
Interim Head Coach Scott Lawrence on the Eagles’ performance today:
“Happy for the men that we were able to show improvement again over the previous week, and a big credit to the assistant coaches for preparing them and Alex Ross in getting us to a level of conditioning that we need to be to play in zero G.”
Spain had the early advantage when the Eagles conceded a penalty, letting Los Leones go to the boot. They missed the penalty kick, giving the Eagles some time to strike first. The first half saw a lot of ball in play, but both sides kept missing scoring opportunities, fumbling the ball with missed passes and knock ons. But the USA kept up their drive, going hard with quick feet and trying to use kicking to their advantage.
No one scored for the first 15 minutes until Spain finally capitalized on a long kick down field to find space in the USA defense to score the first try of the match. The Eagles earned two chances to respond to Spain conceding penalties, and the USA put six points on the board in the first half thanks to Luke Carty’s kicking.
The remainder of the first half continued to be a scramble on both sides as the USA and Spain tried to use kicking to their advantage. Carty attempted a 50-22 play, but just missed it as Spain picked it up and kicked to touch. The Eagles had the final say of the first half when they used some great phase play off a maul to get Nick McCarthy through a gap and down the middle for a try to put the USA in the lead heading to halftime.
The Eagles looked more organized and dominant as the game went on, trying to control the ball and keep the lead. The kicking game continued, but the wind knocked a few off course. Vice Captain Nate Augspurger took advantage of a bad pass by Spain and grabbed the ball to run down field with no opposition, quickly putting on five more points for the USA. Spain immediately responded with a block kick and run, but that would be their last try for the remainder of the game. The rest of the second half went in the USA’s favor. Dylan Fawsitt scored another try through a strong driving maul, off of one of many of the Eagle’s high-functioning line outs.
The game continued to see wild balls, and it traveled down field where Joe Mano attempted to pick up for a try, but was knocked down by a Spanish defender. After review, Facundo Dominguez was sent off with a yellow for obstruction and the Eagles awarded with a penalty try, putting another seven on their point tally. With a one-man advantage the USA took their time to run down the clock as they tried to get more men over the try line. Great defensive pressure from the Eagles paid off, as Spain lost their ball and Joe Mano took it down the wing for his fourth career try in his second cap.
The final minutes of the match saw Thomas Tu’avao off the field with a yellow card for tackling from behind, but it wouldn’t be enough time for Spain to capitalize and turn around the score. Another penalty let Chris Mattina take it to the boot, earning three more points for the USA and completing the tally at 42-12.
The Eagles’ win today closes a year of rebuilding in the new identity of the team’s campaign toward the Rugby World Cup 2027. Ending on this high note sets the USA up with confidence as they look toward a busy year ahead with the inaugural Pacific Nations Cup. Players are now returning to their clubs as the 2024 MLR season nears, and a renewed USA Rugby HP department looks forward to keeping in touch with players and clubs throughout the season ahead of next year’s international window.
|1. Jake Turnbull||Seattle Seawolves||5|
|2. Dylan Fawsitt||New York Ironworkers||27|
|3. David Ainu’u||Toulouse (FRA)||22|
|4. Nate Brakeley (C)||New York Ironworkers||34|
|5. Cam Dolan||NOLA Gold||67|
|6. Sam Golla||Dallas Jackals||5|
|7. Paddy Ryan||Coventry (UK)||5|
|8. Luke White||Chicago Hounds||5|
|9. Nick McCarthy||Chicago Hounds||5|
|10. Luke Carty||Chicago Hounds||16|
|11. Joe Mano||Utah Warriors||2|
|12. Tommaso Boni||Old Glory DC||4|
|13. Tavite Lopeti||Seattle Seawolves||12|
|14. Nate Augspurger (VC)||San Diego Legion||41|
|15. Chris Mattina||Chicago Hounds||5|
|16. Peter Malcolm||Seattle Seawolves||15|
|17. Nate Sylvia||San Diego Legion||3|
|18. Alex Maughan||MLR (Los Angeles)||3|
|19. Bailey Wilson||Utah Warriors||1|
|20. Siaosi Mahoni||Houston SaberCats||11|
|21. Thomas Tu’avao||Utah Warriors||5|
|22. Mitch Wilson||New England Free Jacks||6|
|23. Bryce Campbell||Chicago Hounds||45|
USA Men’s Eagles Staff
Scott Lawrence | Head Coach
Alama Ieremia | Assistant Coach - Attack
Nick Easter | Assistant Coach - Forwards and Defense
Blake Bradford | Assistant Coach - Scrum
Elvis Seveali’i | Assistant Coach - Individual Skills Development
Alex Ross | Head of Athlete Performance
Jimmy Harrison | Head Analyst
Kristen Douhan | Head Physiotherapist
Jenn Roney | Athletic Trainer
Daliah Hurwitz | Sports Massage Therapist
Matt Schmitz | Team Doctor
Oscar Alvarez | Team Manager
Vila International Rugby Cup Match schedule
November 11, 2023
Match 1 - USA v Brazil | 48-3 (W)
Match 2 - Spain v Canada | 42-20 (ESP)
November 18, 2023
USA v Spain (Final) - 42-12 (W)