Photo Credit: Joao Neto
ROUND ROCK, Texas – USA Eagles host Brazil Os Tupis for Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) 2017 in Round Rock, Texas Saturday, but No. 17 USA must take the game seriously if they hope to beat No. 34 Brazil.
USA ran an untested roster against Brazil in ARC 2016, which is part of the reason for Brazil’s historic win. The No. 16 – at the time – Eagles may have been cocky after beating Chile 64-0 in their previous game; No. 42 Os Tupis wasn’t even considered a contender, and never faced USA before the game in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Brazil forced quick and relentless play against a USA team befuddled by knock-ons, missed tackles, penalty kicks and low field awareness.
Brazil held the lead at 18-0 in less than 30 minutes into the game, and per play making stats, they shouldn’t have been able to do that. USA’s ball possession stood at 55 percent compared to Brazil’s 45 percent, and the USA won four out of five scrums.
It wouldn’t be until nearly half time when the Eagles finally put points on the score board, thanks to fly half James Bird’s penalty kick. Bird and full back Mike Te’o managed to bring USA into the lead near the end of the second half at 23-21.
Os Tupis isn’t as physically powerful as the Eagles, and they know it. They commit two or three men to every tackle, which creates overloads and gaping holes, but the Eagles rarely took advantage of this. USA wouldn’t take advantage of this until Brazil started to get tired and run out of steam.
It could’ve been because the match stadium clock was wrong, it could’ve been because the game was hosted in Brazil, and it could’ve been that USA felt they had the win already.
With one minute left in the game, Brazil’s fly half Moises Duque made a successful penalty kick, and Brazil won 24-23.
With a tested roster on US soil, and an attitude ready to earn a win, the Eagles will win this game.
Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m. CT at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas (just outside Austin). Tickets can be purchased at http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase. The game can be viewed on The Rugby Channel Saturday 7:00 p.m. CT, or on ESPN2 Sunday 10:30 p.m. CT.