Currently ranked 15th in the world, the Eagles will join England, South Africa, Samoa and Tonga in Pool A in the Rugby World Cup.
The USA has qualified for all but one Rugby World Cup (in 1995), but never advanced beyond the group stages. Like Portugal, USA qualified for this year’s tournament at the expense of Uruguay, whom they defeated 42-13 and then 26-7.
The side is captained by Mike Hercus, the fly-half formerly of Sale Sharks, Llanelli Scarlets and currently Newport Gwent Dragons. The team’s largest victory came last year when they defeated Barbados by 91-0, whilst their heaviest defeat came at the hands of Pool A rivals England in 1999, when they lost 106-8.
The Eagles compete in the Churchill Cup every summer, playing against Canada, England Saxons, Scotland A, Ireland A and the New Zealand Maori. In this year’s competition, they lost all of their matches, including a 52-10 drubbing by Canada and a 51-3 defeat by England’s second string.
Constrained by geographical problems in such a large country, and by the lack of fixtures in their calendar, the USA struggles to compete with the top nations, and will do well to avoid hemorrhaging points against England, South Africa and Samoa in France in September.