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HSAA Players Learning What's Required

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HSAA Players Learning What's Required

It might be fair to say that the High School All American coaches were a little taken aback by their team’s scrimmage loss to Cordoba Academy.
 
This was, after all, a Cordoba team that the Americans had beaten in 2013, so what gives with the 48-3 loss? There were reasons, for sure. Cordoba fielded a much older team (just about everyone was born in 1995, whereas the HSAA team had five freshmen or sophomores. The Cordoba No. 8 and scrumhalf were outstanding, and national U20 players … that sort of thing.
 
But even so, Coach Salty Thompson and his staff decided this was time to send a message. The day after the scrimmage was not a recovery day, but a full-on, full-contact practice. The newer players had been in a bit of shock at the pace of the game, and the physicality, and Thompson wanted them to know it wasn’t going to get any easier.
 
“We were caught on the back foot,” said Thompson. “We mixed and matched, which we did purposely and we lost continuity, and that impacted our possession … and we started to struggle. We missed touch and Cordoba responded with scores within a minute. When we made a mistake they hurt us.”
 
But, added Thompson, the opposition couldn’t be lowered for new players.
 
“We have to get the bar higher,” said Thompson. “I thought the scoreline would be much better but if we’re going to get better as a nation, if we’re going to close the gap on a nation such as Argentina, it’s inexcusable to play below a certain standard.”
 
And the response was good. The HSAA players battled Argentina U18s close before losing 35-13. Last year, the HSAA team played a split Argentina U18s team, and lost 33-18 and 57-9. With that context, 35-13 seems an improvement.
 
“The try we scored was a classic,” said Thompson. “We ran decoys and ran in the blindside wing, and Thomas Lorenzo from Oklahoma drifts wide. The play is designed to get the flyhalf and inside center to hesitate, and Jo Jo [Tikoisuva] took a gap and went right up the middle. He had the fullback and the cover defense to beat, and he did that. That was great. We needed to do more.”
 
Notes: USA U20 flanker Hanco Germishuys, who is widely considered a supremely promising young flanker, is out of the tour as he aggravated an ankle injury. Germishuys is reportedly gutted at the prospect of having to go home early, but part of the reason that is happening is because Thompson wants him fit for the Youth Olympic Games in August.
 
Vili Helu is also injured, but is expected to return to fitness soon.
 
Ben Cima and Jesus Arias gave interviews to the local ESPN outlet, as they both speak Spanish. The local press accounts of the team have been very complimentary.
 
Argentina scrumhalf Patricio Baronio, who was 4-4 on his conversions, said “we did not expect it to be so close.”
 
The HSAA team plays Italy at 2pm local time (1pm EDT) July 22, and then 2pm local time July 26 against Uruguay.