The U.S. Men's National Rugby Team, the USA Eagles, takes the next step in its attempt to qualify for 2023 World Cup Rugby Tournament with a match against Chile on July 16th, in Glendale, CO.
And what better way to get some playing time together, identify weaknesses in the game plan, and give the emerging talent some precious on-field playing time, than with a friendly high-level match?
To whit, the United kicks off summer with a friendly match ("non-test) on July 1st against the French Barbarians.
While the historic French Barbarians team have been serving until recently as an unofficial French national B team, The French Barbarians of today "are an invitational side of rugby players assembled to celebrate an open and exciting style of rugby." Or as USA Rugby puts it, the Barbarians are known for "playing a notoriously creative style of rugby".
The team (not to be confused with the British Barbarians from whom club founders drew their inspiration), are known fondly as the "Ba-Bas" and played their last international game in November 2021, in a win against Tonga in Lyons.
Friday will be a historic moment for both teams. For the Eagles, it will be the first time they play against the Barbarians. for the Barbarians, it will be only their second time playing in North America (their first time being a game vs Canada in 2008).
No, not those Ba Bas.
While the results of this game will not carry any weight in international standings, the USA team still is hoping to establish a a level of play that will inspire confidence and demonstrate their readiness to take on bigger matches in the months ahead.
With the U.S. recently landing the 2031 and 2033 Rugby World Cups, and with Major League Rugby growing like gangbusters, there is a high level of optimism that this time, rugby will really take off in the United States. Failure to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France would be an incredible disappointment and a mood killer for the sport's American future.
Courtesy of USA Rugby, this is the Eagles lineup announced for the game.
|1||David Ainu’u||Toulouse (FRA)|
|2||Kapeli Pifeleti||Saracens (ENG)|
|3||Paul Mullen||Utah Warriors|
|4||Nick Civetta||Rugby New York|
|5||Greg Peterson||Newcastle Falcons (ENG)|
|6||Hanco Germishuys||LA Giltinis|
|7||Moni Tonga’uiha||NOLA Gold|
|8||Cam Dolan||NOLA Gold|
|9||Ruben de Haas||Saracens (ENG)|
|10||AJ MacGinty (C)||Sale Sharks (ENG)|
|11||Mitch Wilson||New England Free Jacks|
|12||Bryce Campbell||Austin Gilgronis|
|13||Tavite Lopeti||Seattle Seawolves|
|14||Christian Dyer||Houston SaberCats|
|15||Marcel Brache||Austin Gilgronis|
|16||Mikey Sosene-Feagai||Toulon (FRA)|
|17||Chance Wenglewski||Rugby New York|
|18||Joe Taufete’e||LA Giltinis|
|19||Siaosi Mahoni||Houston SaberCats|
|20||Ben Bonasso||Rugby New York|
|21||Nate Augspurger||San Diego Legion|
|22||Paul Lasike||Utah Warriors|
|23||Luke Carty||LA Giltinis|
We are thrilled and proud to note the incredible factoid that almost three quarters (17) of the team named for this game play at club level in Major League Rugby, which as we recall started in 2018 with 7 teams and just completed its 2022 season, with a dramatic finals showdown between New York and Seattle.
This still leaves six players on the national team roser that currently play abroad - all in either England or France. The most notable of these is fly-half AJ MacGinty, America's leading scorer at two Rugby World Cups (2015 and 2019).
All but one player on the U.S. roster has been selected to represent the national team before. The only one who hasn't is New England Free Jacks wing Mitch Wilson, who will earn his first cap if he appears in either Chile match.
Barbarians-style squads often play a much more loose, fast-paced style of rugby that results in plenty of scoring and filling up the scoreboard on both ends, as opposing teams try and keep up - just ask England about its 52-21 blowout loss to the original Barbarians earlier this month.
So here's to a thrilling game!