Many who helped the US to a second-place finish in this spring's Pacific Rim Rugby Championship join the duo of 25-year-olds. Chris Lippert, Tom Billups, and Luke Gross lend cohesion to the forward unit, while Andre Bachelet, Matt Alexander, Mark Scharrenberg, and Maika Sika can be counted on in the backline.
Prop Lippert, who has played 22 times for the US, and halfback Bachelet, who's made 15 appearances, recently set American records for international games (or "caps") at their respective positions. With 14 to this credit, Billups could surpass Pat Johnson's record of 16 caps at hooker during the course of the three-game Pan Am.
Meanwhile, flyhalf Alexander is poised to surpass 100 points for his career. Having debuted a year ago in Toronto, Alexander totals 92 after seven games, and should pass the century mark during the competition. Despite missing a game, he scored two tries and 74 points during the Pacific Rim series to finish third in the league scoring race.
Flankers Dave Hodges and Paul Vogl and wing Bobby Lockerem all travel with the US for the first time. Several more players may be added to the list before the team1s September 8 departure for Ontario.
The US face a difficult challenge in meeting powerful Argentina, Uruguay, and Canada all in the space of eight days. Inactive since July 6's 74-5 thrashing of Japan, the Eagles must overcome the Southern hemisphere teams' mid-season form as well as Canada's home-field advantage. All four teams must contend with difficulties of playing three matches in an unusually short space of time, sure to be a severe test of depth.
Anxious as ever to pull his charges together again, head coach Jack
Clark commented that "The 10-week layoff will force us to start over.
It'll be an out-of-season competition for us, but I'm nevertheless
excited for the matches."