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Frustrated, HSAA Team Looks to Uruguay

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Frustrated, HSAA Team Looks to Uruguay

The High School All Americans came out of their loss to the Italy U18s with a deep sense of frustration.

The frustration came in many forms, such as JoJo Tikoisuva breaking through down to within five meters of the line within in the first few minutes. Brian Nault took the ball closer, and then Italy came in from offside to kill the ball. No try (and no yellow card), but three points from Ben Cima.

There were other try-scoring chances that ended with no tries.
“We did really well getting to the five,” said HSAA Head Coach Salty Thompson.
There was yet another yellow card against the American team, but repeated infractions from Italy weren’t dealt with quite as harshly.
And there were those last 25 minutes, where they let the game get away.
“Against Argentina we played a good 35 to 40 minutes of rugby,” said Thompson. “Against Italy we played a good 40 to 55 minutes. But we need to keep at it and finish these games. One of the things we’ve run into is, that all of these players are used to be starters for their teams at home, and playing all 80 minutes. They need to learn how to be an impact sub. That’s a different mentality.”
Thompson said he was frustrated personally.
“When are we going to learn to get over that hump?” he said. “I think our boys are fit, although Michael Engelbrecht said we probably have to raise the bar again for the expectations for guys who are coming in both in our skills and our conditioning. When we get tired, we fall off tackles. All it takes is one penetrating run, which sucks in more defenders, and narrows our defensive wall, and produces an opening.”

Before playing Uruguay on Saturday, the HSAA team has had a day off and went through two hard days on Wednesday and Thursday. Thompson said there is still stuff that needs doing.
“By this stage, everything you want to do in your patterns of play in attack and defense, your exit plays, what you want to do in different parts of the field, are in place. So it’s making sure we get rotations in to cover players who are banged up - getting everybody on the same page, and getting the [newer] guys reps so they’re more confident under pressure,” Thompson said. “We’re resting the guys who get a lot of time on their legs. It’s hard to go through a tour like this and not pick up something. It’s rugby. But we’re managing the guys.”

Notes: Jack Iscaro got a start against Italy, and it was a special moment for him as his father Paolo Iscaro played prop for Italy when he was a player. 
As for managing injuries, Calvin Whiting rolled and ankle and missed the game against Italy. He is still day-to-day. Ben Cima is nursing a calf bruise, but is likely to play Saturday. Mitch Wilson is also nursing an injury.