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Eagle Men Named to Face Spain in La Vila Rugby Cup Final

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Eagle Men Named to Face Spain in La Vila Rugby Cup Final

Joe Mano scored three in his debut last week. Photo WalterD Fotografía.

USA Men's 15s Interim Head Coach Scott Lawrence has made a few changes to the gameday 23 as the Eagles close out their 2023 season with a chance for some hardware.

Captain Nate Brakeley will play in his final international test match as he has announced his retirement from the USA Eagles. Set to start in his 34th game, Brakeley started playing rugby at St. John's HS in Massachusetts and then went on to be an All American at Dartmouth. He made his USA debut in 2016 against Canada. USA v. Spain kicks off Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2pm ET, live on RugbyPass TV

“I love rugby and I love my country," said Brakeley. "To wear the jersey even once is unforgettable, to wear it for eight years has been the greatest honor I can imagine. The nature of sport is that your time is finite, so I couldn’t be more pleased to go out playing for a championship alongside some of the same boys I started this journey with.” 

Nate Brakely (in headwrap) rucks over against Russia in 2016, Brakeley's first year as an Eagle. Note his teammate Nate Augspurger, who remains an Eagle teammate today. David Barpal photo.

Jake Turnbull is moved to the starting squad at loosehead. David Ainu’u will start at tighthead, while Nate Augspurger and Joe Mano switch jersey numbers from last week. On the bench, Bailey Wilson can earn his first international cap. The Utah Warriors flanker played with the USA against Toulouse in Salt Lake City for an uncapped tournament. He will again step alongside his brother, Mitch, who is named to the replacements. 

The USA and tournament hosts Spain will meet on the Finals pitch at the Vila International Rugby Cup for the first time in recent history. The USA is ranked just one spot above Spain in the World Rugby international rankings, so fans are expected to see a great matchup. Spain have shown they can be contenders in the European rugby scene in the last few years, with some striking capabilities in the back line that put up 42 points on Canada last week. 

“This is an intriguing match up of different styles," said Lawrence. It’s what makes our sport so exciting to watch. We’re focused at doing the things we’re good at but doing them better this game. That has been our focus since July, a little bit more time each game in zero-G.”

Cam Dolan will tie Mike MacDonald as the second-most-capped Eagle when he runs on Saturday against Spain. Dolan has been on the national team since 2013.

USA Lineup vs Spain
Name Club Caps
1. Jake Turnbull Seattle Seawolves 4
2. Dylan Fawsitt New York Ironworkers 26
3. David Ainu’u Toulouse (FRA) 21
4. Nate Brakeley (C) New York Ironworkers 33
5. Cam Dolan NOLA Gold 66
6. Sam Golla Dallas Jackals 4
7. Paddy Ryan Coventry (UK) 4
8. Luke White Chicago Hounds 4
9. Nick McCarthy Chicago Hounds 4
10. Luke Carty Chicago Hounds 15
11. Joe Mano Utah Warriors 1
12. Tommaso Boni Old Glory DC 3
13. Tavite Lopeti Seattle Seawolves 11
14. Nate Augspurger (VC) San Diego Legion 40
15. Chris Mattina Chicago Hounds 4
16. Peter Malcolm Seattle Seawolves 13
17. Nate Sylvia San Diego Legion 1
18. Alex Maughan MLR (Los Angeles) 1
19. Bailey Wilson* Utah Warriors Debut
20. Siaosi Mahoni Houston SaberCats 9
21. Thomas Tu’avao Utah Warriors 3
22. Mitch Wilson New England Free Jacks 4
23. Bryce Campbell Chicago Hounds 43