USA National Rugby Team


US Taps Depth for Canada Match

(Buenos Aires, Argentina) 17 August 1998 -- Twelve fresh players will start in the USA's World Cup qualifying match against Canada tomorrow, including test veterans Rob Lumkong, Brian Hightower, and Chris Morrow.

Tapping the squad's depth, the changes reflect the team's goal of qualifying for the World Cup with the highest seeding possible while also using the entire roster to cope with three tests in eight days, US head coach Jack Clark said in announcing the starting team.

"The goal here is to qualify for Rugby World Cup, and we're using a squad approach," Clark noted. "With that said, the selection could be close to our best available lineup."

But for some bumps and bruises, most everyone in the 29-man squad is healthy. Center Ray Green is suffering from knee problems, following surgery that kept him out of the 1998 Pacific Rim season. Lock Alec Parker, who was expected to join the team late last week, remains at home and will not join the team in its qualifying bid.

Belmont Shore flyhalf Ian Stevens and Gentlemen of Aspen lock Bob LeClerc earn their first caps, while prop Bill LeClerc makes his first appearance of the 1998 season. The pairing gives the Eagles their first brother combination since hooker John and flanker Whitt Everett in 1986.

Elsewhere, 1998 test debutant George Sucher, hooker and captain Tom Billups, and Bill LeClerc form the US front row, while brother Bob and Luke Gross pair at lock. Flankers Dave Hodges and Fifita Mounga and eighthman Rob Lumkong make up the back row.

Kevin Dalzell and Stevens link at halfback, and Mark Scharrenberg and Juan Grobler form the midfield. Vaea Anitoni, Hightower, and fullback Chris Morrow are the deep three.

Having rested a number of veterans in its win over Uruguay, Canada will field nearly a first-choice lineup, including its veteran front row and flyhalf Gareth Rees. In tomorrow's other match, Uruguay takes on Argentina.

United States: Chris Morrow; Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Mark Scharrenberg, Brian Hightower; Ian Stevens, Kevin Dalzell; George Sucher, Tom Billups (captain), Bill LeClerc, Luke Gross, Bob LeClerc, Dave Hodges, Fifita Mounga, Rob Lumkong.Reserves: Steve Hiatt, Mark Williams, Britt Howard; Shaun Paga, Jason Walker, Kirk Khasigian, John McBride.