USA Readies for Asian Trip
(Berkeley, California) 29 May 1996 -- Tied for first place in the Pacific Rim Rugby Championship, the USA national team leaves on June 3 for a two-game trip to Asia. The Eagles will play league matches against Hong Kong on June 9 and Japan on June 16.

Halfback Andre Bachelet captains a 23-man squad that includes such stars as second row Luke Gross, loosies Dan Lyle and Rob Lumkong, and wing Vaea Anitoni, who's scored in two consecutive games and three times in his last five internationals. Prop Brent Hinz and flanker Brian Vahosky make their first appearances in the Eagle squad.

Following a hard-fought home-and-home series with Canada, the Asian leg of the Eagles' Pacific Rim schedule looks to be equally challenging. Hong Kong and Japan won a game a piece in their opening two matches, each side winning at home. Pacific Rim games in Tokyo and Hong Kong attracted crowds of more than 6000, however, far more than the 2200+ fans who watched the US in San Francisco and Vancouver.

"I'm looking forward to hard-and-fast games in difficult places," head coach Jack Clark commented ahead of departure. "Games like these are part of becoming a better team."

"Needless to say, we're going to play to win, but we're also going to continue to blood new players. At this stage of the World Cup cycle, it's almost as important as victories."

Earlier this spring, the USA defeated Canada 19-12 at home on May 11, holding the Maple Leafs without a try. A week later an injury-time score denied the Eagles an unprecedented third consecutive win over their arch rivals. Coming within seven points of the winning total, 24-20, the US earned a vital point in the race for the inaugural Pacific Rim crown.