USA National Rugby Team


US Steps Up to First Test since Epson Cup

(Twickenham, England) 19 August 1999 -- Number eight Dan Lyle leads the United States against heavily favored England as the US steps up to its first international since finishing a strong third in the Epson Cup with wins over Tonga, Fiji, and Canada.

Current form wins out in the USA's selections for this Saturday's test, but the first-choice team could well change before the start of the World Cup. Constrained by distance and resources, the Eagles don't assemble as regularly as their opponents and have been using a tour of Great Britain as a camp, training twice a day.

The Eagles' preparations for October's world championship also include an August 30 match against Wales, although several players will have to leave before then to meet work commitments.

"If union resources, development systems, and player compensation mean anything, they should beat us by a couple hundred points. But even in a lopsided loss Tuesday, I believe we demonstrated that we quite relish the encounter," US coach Jack Clark said in announcing the team.

"We're very much looking forward to giving these boys a game."

Practice casualties have cost the team the services of departed flanker Richard Tardits, who left yesterday for rush arthoscopic surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee, in hopes of his returning in time for the World Cup. Test lock Philippe Farner has already been scratched from the World Cup roster after back surgery.

Alatini Saulala and Mark Scharrenberg, who failed fitness tests prior to Tuesday night's match with an England XV, remain day to day. Though nursing a hamstring, Saulala has been chosen on the wing for the test.

Kevin Dalzell, who lead the US with three tries and 57 points during the Epson Cup, triggers the US backline from scrumhalf. David Niu is his halfback partner, with Tom Takau and Juan Grobler paired in the centers. Vaea Anitoni takes up the right wing, and 1998 Oxford Blue Kurt Shuman starts at fullback.

Bath standout Lyle heads pack that includes props George Sucher and Ray Lehner and hooker Tom Billups, second rowers Luke Gross and Alec Parker, and flankers Fifita Mounga and Dave Hodges.

The two sides haven't met since England won a 37-9 contest during the 1991 World Cup.

The USA's World Cup pool includes Australia, Ireland, and Romania. In a June match, the Wallabies downed visiting England by 22-15.

United States: Kurt Shuman; Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Tom Takau, Alatini Saulala; David Niu, Kevin Dalzell; George Sucher, Tom Billups, Ray Lehner, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Dave Hodges, Fifita Mounga, Dan Lyle (captain). Reserves: Mark Williams, Mark Scharrenberg, Britt Howard, Shaun Paga, Rob Lumkong, Marc L'Huilier, Kirk Khasigian.

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Scott Compton
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