USA secures place at RWC'07
October 8, 2006

The USA have booked their place at Rugby World Cup 2007 after completing a 33-7 win over Uruguay in their second leg qualifier in Stanford, California.

The USA were already odds on for a trip to France after a 43-17 victory in last weekend's first leg in Montevideo.

The Eagles didn't take too much time to establish itself University's Steuber Rugby Stadium.

The Men's National Team started racking up points just over two minutes into the match and finished with a total score of 33-7, securing the US the last spot allocated to the Americas for the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

The USA has earned its way into Pool A and as a result will be pitted against defending World Champions England, South Africa, Samoa and another qualifier yet undecided.

"I was very pleased with the end result," USA Rugby's Interim Head Coach Peter Thorburn said. "Our goal was to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, and that is what we did. Unfortunately, I wasn't overly excited about the way we played. But, it is inevitable for individuals who know they have a big lead, not to get as motivated to play their hardest."

The USA had a 29 point lead on Uruguay going into this match, after winning their first contest 42-13 in Montevideo a week before. This time, however, the USA knew what to expect when they met Uruguay on the pitch at Stanford, which had both its ups and downs for the Eagles.

The USA looked completely in control of the match early on, as Captain Mike Hercus (Cardiff, Wales) put the first points on the board after a penalty kick minutes into the game. Seven minutes later, Paul Emerick (Pella, Iowa) broke through Uruguay's defense to run over 50 meters for the first try of the game. Hercus converted for the extra points to put the U.S. up 10-0, 10 minutes into the first half.

Uruguay replied shortly after to score its only points in the match off of a try by Juan Menchaca. Menchaca also converted and Uruguay was only trailing by three, at 10-7.

The USA, however, was awarded another penalty kick just over 20 minutes into the game and those three points snowballed with another try by Emerick, which quickly put the Eagles up 18-7. Despite a dangerously-close lineout several minutes later in Uruguayan territory, the half ended with the same 11-point margin between the two teams.

A penalty kick from Hercus at around 60 minute mark, once again jump-started the Eagles in the second half. Uruguay was able to hold the Eagles scoreless for about 12 more minutes, but that was as much as they could muster. The Eagles found the try-line two more times in the last 10 minutes as center Vaha Esikia (San Mateo, Calif.) scored both in front of a home-town crowd. Hercus converted one of two second half tries to put the Eagles at 33 to finish the match.

"I have mixed emotions about this match," Hercus said after the match. "I mean we qualified for the World Cup, so I am happy about that. But, I saw the match going differently. Ultimately, I thought we could have scored a lot more points on them. We just didn't adjust to the referees calls like we should have. But that is something that will come with time."

Fortunately, time is something which the Men's National Team is finally afforded. The U.S. has until September 2007 to train for the Rugby World Cup in France.

In the 2003 World Cup Qualifier Matches, the USA ended up going to repechage to earn its way to the World Cup. But this time around has succeeded in paving an easier path to the most anticipated rugby event in the world, with the two-match win against Uruguay.

Uruguay, however, is slated for their repachage series in March.

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