US Eagles 6-74 New Zealand
US staring at enormous chasm to close
November 2, 2014
The US have a long way to go to match the skills of the All Blacks © Getty Images

Both sides agree there is a world of work ahead for the United States after the All Blacks exposed a gulf in rugby class between the nations in Chicago. The 74-6 scoreline at Soldier Field represents the current status of the world champions and the 18th-ranked Eagles, according to home captain Todd Clever.

He says the occasion was memorable and important for US rugby to sell the game to a country dominated by mega-rich traditional US sports. His players' gave it everything but with just a week together and with half his team-mates still amateur, Clever says the result was inevitable.

"The question is, what are we going to do about it?" he said. "To play at that top level in front of a prime time TV audience, we have to have more time together than five sessions."

The veteran flanker says it is up to USA Rugby to capitalise on the interest created by organising more Tests against tier one opponents, attracting more sponsorship and establishing a US professional league.

All Blacks Steve Hansen says the Eagles showed encouraging signs a year out from their seventh appearance at a World Cup. They were committed up front while he singled out England-based wing Blaine Scully as a player to watch.

However, he says it will take fundamental changes, which are under way through youth programmes, to make substantial gains.

"Once those young players come into international rugby, you're going to have a group of men who have grown up with the game. We'll see not only the physicality and the passion the USA team had today. We'll see them also have a lot more skill because they've played all their lives."

Hansen hopes the All Blacks can return to the US soon.

"If we did it every year, I suppose that excitement would dim. But you wouldn't want to wait another 20 years."


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