Heading up a 26-man squad of players from around the country, halfback Andre Bachelet, flanker Dan Lyle, and wing Vaea Anitoni will lead the US team into action. A 1993 Cal graduate and San Francisco resident, Bachelet captains the Eagles, while Lyle and Anitoni are explosive players with a knack for crunching hits and also the tryzone. Jack Clark, the head man at Cal, serves as coach.
Bachelet skippered the US to a 15-14 comeback win over Canada in the two teams' last meeting, in September 1995 in Toronto. Playing into a stiff wind, the Eagles fell behind by 14-0, but a second-half try and penalty goal by flyhalf Matt Alexander pulled them back into contention, and center Ray Green's try in the dying moments produced victory.
The Eagles dropped their most recent contest, however, losing 25-18 to powerful Ireland in Marietta, Georgia, on January 6. In a dramatic match that saw five lead changes, the US took an 18-16 second-half lead, but exceptional Irish goalkicking down the stretch ended hopes for an unthinkable upset.
Canada hasn't played since last September, but with veterans such as lock Mike James and flanker Al Charron in the lineup, the Maple Leafs can be expected to show the same defensive-minded, possession game they exhibited at the 1995 World Cup.
One week after the San Francisco match, Canada and the United States will meet again in Vancouver, to play the return contest in the Pacific Rim Rugby Championship's home-and-away schedule. But the first US-Canada match takes on added significance because it counts in the "Can-Am" series, the 20-year-old North American rivalry that's played annually for bragging rights.
"It's always an honor and a privilege to be part of the Can-Am," captain Bachelet noted. "There's a lot of tradition behind it."
Balboa Park Stadium, a municipally owned facility
located in San Francisco's Sunset District, seats
5000. Tickets are $15, and are being sold through
Bass Tickets (800.225.BASS) or at the gate.