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'On the field a total disaster. Off the field, a total disaster... a nadir for American rugby'

By Ian Cameron
Dino Waldren #18 of the USA Eagles looks on against the New Zealand All Blacks during the second half at FedExField (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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A former USA Eagle has branded America’s annihilation at the hands the All Blacks a ‘nadir’ for the sport in the United States and a much-needed wake-up call for the union.

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Ian Foster’s All Blacks routed their hosts 104 – 14 in an utterly one-sided affair. The Eagles – who were shorn of many of their internationals and relying on MLR players – were put to the sword with minimal fuss at the FedEx Field in Washington DC. It’s a difficult scoreline to digest for USA Rugby, who recently announced their ambitions of hosting the 2031 Rugby World Cup.

Tony¬†Ridnell – who was speaking on the American-based Rugby Wrap-Up podcast with Matt McCarthy – described the thrashing in the capital as the low point in what was a dire weekend for a number of America’s national teams.

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“On the day on Saturday, it was a slap in the face. The All Blacks were athletically superior to us, one through 15.

“For an America team to look like that athletically… just looking at the opening kick-off. One phase, All Blacks score.

“There were several tries that were scored that looked like the All Blacks were in a training run playing against a defensive side that was playing 50 per cent speed, which is the way we used to train.”

Ridnell, who won 14 caps for the Eagles in the 1980s and 90s, suggests the humiliating loss must serve as a call to action for American rugby.

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“I don’t think we should get down or really bummed out by any individual, about any coaching, whatever, but we have to recognise this is a nadir for American rugby.

“Our Junior Selects lost to Brazil, 33 to 20, down in Brazil to a Brazilian junior team. That’s bordering on the point of disgraceful.

“Losing to Uruguay the way we did, it’s bordering on the point of disgraceful.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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“It’s all the things leading up to this time, for us to be slapped in the face like we did this weekend. That might be the only optimistic thing to take away from the weekend, the fact that if we are going to bid for a Rugby World Cup in 2031, the kids that going to play at that World Cup at ages 15 to 18.

“That tells me that we need to put every single resource we can into growing and developing the high school game.

“This match – in my opinion –¬† on the field a total disaster. Off the field, a total disaster.

“We made less than $200,000 dollars net. The All Blacks made 1.3 million and the promoters made seven figures as well.”

Josh Lord in his debut appearance for the All Blacks. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Photosport)

Ridnell even suggested that All Blacks won’t be happy with the performance, despite the scoreline.

“Quite frankly, if I was in the All Blacks coaching set-up, I’d be a little disappointed in how that second half went. An All Black team turning the ball over 15 times, it doesn’t happen that often.

“To be realistic, the score was kind to the United States. The All Blacks could have put four or five more tries.

“This was not a [New Zealand] second team, if you watched the Rugby Championship, all of these players featured.

“Obviously guys like Whitelock and Cane hadn’t played in a few weeks. And they’re going to come out like mountain lions and they did.

“I don’t think the New Zealand setup would be happy with the way the run of play went. It’s certainly not going to prepare them to play Wales this weekend in front of 60,000 singing Welshmen.”

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