USA National Rugby Team


Eagles Announce Epson Cup Preliminary Squad

(Berkeley, California) 10 May 2000 -- USA head coach Duncan Hall has named a 31-man preliminary squad in the build-up to the Eagles' first Epson Cup Pacific Rim match, and it is a list notable for its absences.

Lost to retirement are nine members of the Rugby World Cup squad, including American rugby greats Rob Lumkong, Richard Tardits and Tom Billups. Several other experienced players are unavailable due to work, professional club commitments or injury.

Hall will wait one more week before announcing the squad of 24 to travel to Japan for the season opener on May 27. In the meantime, National Team staff will scout several domestic-based players at the regional club championships to be contested across the United States this coming weekend.

"There's competition at various positions for a place on the final squad," said Hall, "and the Sweet 16 club competition gives selectors an opportunity to view players in a highly competitive environment."

The head coach will also watch results from the weekend's round of the Allied Dunbar Premiership, awaiting the outcome of the Leceister-Bristol clash in particular. Although no Americans play for either team, the result will effect Bath's premiership campaign and thus Dan Lyle's availability.

While the Eagles captain remains a question mark for the Epson Cup opener, lock Luke Gross is definitely unavailable as his club Roma looks to secure the Italian first division title.

Changes are also inevitable on the wings. One of the Eagles' most-capped players, Vaea Anitoni, has limited availability this season, and Brian Hightower is sidelined with a knee injury. In the centers, where Tomasi Takau and Alatini Saulala leave big shoes to fill, Chicago's Phillip Eloff has been named to the squad alongside Juan Grobler. Eloff made his case for Eagles consideration at December's All-Star tournament in Tampa, Florida.

Other newcomers, who have played their way into consideration on the strength of club form, are props Mike Brown (Unicorns, Huntington Beach ) and Troy Bartley (Old Blues, Berkeley), lock Tom Kelleher (Boston), flyhalf Grant Wells (Golden Gate, San Francisco), wing Dave DiSorbo (OMBAC, San Diego) and fullback Karl Thompson (Golden Gate).

Forwards: Troy Bartley, John Burke, Mike Brown, David Care, Joe Clayton, Philippe Farner, Dave Hodges, Kirk Khasigian,, Tom Kelleher, Ray Lehner, Dan Lyle, John McBride, Shaun Paga, Eric Reed, Carl Thompson. Backs: Vaea Anitoni, Andre Blom, Jay Bronson, Chip Curtis, Malikai Dalai, Kevin Dalzell, Dave Disorbo, Phillip Eloff, Juan Grobler, Brian Hightower, Nelo Lui, David Niu, Kurt Shuman, Mose Timoteo, Grant Wells, Link Wilfley.

© USA National Rugby Team
Scott Compton, Media Relations
Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse
Berkeley, California 94720 4426
phone 510.643.1971 / fax 510.643.2192