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Eagles Selected for Next 3 Games

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Eagles Selected for Next 3 Games

David Barpal photo.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (USA Rugby Release) – Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin has chosen a squad of 31 players to face Canada, Harlequin F.C., and Australia in the coming weeks.

Seven players, including the front row’s Chris Baumann, Zach Fenoglio, Olive Kilifi, and Al McFarland, attended a forwards-specific camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to kick off the year, while 11 players traveled to South America for a three-match tour as the USA Rugby Selects.

Samu Manoa and Joseph Taufete’e mark the only two additions to the team that competed in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, where the Eagles rallied for wins against Japan and Canada in the four-match campaign. The tests against the aforementioned nations, Samoa, and Tonga were the first for the Eagles since the Fall 2014 Tour.

Even though the U.S. hosted New Zealand at Soldier Field last November, the PNC was the first extended assembly for the overseas professionals in the squad since the 2014 PNC campaign.

“The Pacific Nations Cup was an opportunity to get these guys together for the first time in a long time,” Tolkin said. “Our first goal was to get everyone on the same page, familiar with each other as teammates, and figure out what works for us and what doesn’t.

“The second part is to get everyone match fit. We got a lot of playing time for everyone. Hopefully the time off and time away helps them to put everything in perspective and they come back better prepared, more fit, and a little rested.”

The national team is training at University of Vermont ahead of its first pre-Rugby World Cup clash with Canada, set for Aug. 22 in Ottawa. AJ MacGinty kicked a last-minute drop goal to give the Eagles a 15-13 victory against the rival north of the border in the final PNC match Aug. 3, just five days after Canada fell to Samoa.

Manoa, a new signee with Toulon of France’s Top 14, will not travel to Ontario, but will be in the mix for selection against Harlequins at PPL Park in Philadelphia Aug. 30. The Premiership Rugby Forward of the Year nominee scored a try apiece in Northampton Saints’ two matches against the London-based club during the 2014-15 season, while Eagles captain Chris Wyles scored a brace in Saracens’ March meeting with Harlequins and Blaine Scully dotted down once for Leicester Tigers.

Taufete’e comes into the squad as a front-rower, having been a day-camper at the Eagles’ pre-PNC training sessions at Stanford University.

“We made a couple of tough cuts of guys who were quality players and quality teammates,” Tolkin said. “That was hard, but it shows we’re not just filling out names for a roster, and that we actually have quality here to fill out all 31 spots.

“We have most of the squad in a pecking order, but there are still going to be a few spots where guys are duking it out. We need to see what the best option is for us after these next three games.”

Before the U.S. travels to England, it will return to Chicago for the nation’s first test against Australia since Rugby World Cup 2011, and the first on American soil since 1976. Soldier Field will host the Sep. 5 clash, which is presented by Astellas.

ESPN 3 will provide coverage of the match in Philadelphia, with kickoff from PPL Park scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. Broadcast details and start time for the test at Soldier Field will be announced in due course.

Men's Eagles | Pre-Rugby World Cup Squad
Danny Barrett - Men's Eagles Sevens
Chris Baumann - Santa Monica RFC
Cameron Dolan - Cardiff RFC (Wales)
Andrew Durutalo - Men's Eagles Sevens
Zach Fenoglio - Glendale Raptors RFC
Eric Fry - Newcastle RFC (England)
Seamus Kelly - San Francisco Golden Gate RFC
Olive Kilifi - Seattle Saracens RFC
Niku Kruger - Glendale Raptors RFC
Titi Lamositele - Saracens RFC (England)
Scott LaValla - Stade Francais (France)
Al McFarland - NYAC
AJ MacGinty - Life Rugby
Samu Manoa - Toulon (France)
Matekitonga Moeakiola - Castenet (France)
Takudzwa Ngwenya - Biarritz (France)
Folau Niua - Men's Eagles Sevens
Thretton Palamo - London Welsh RFC (England)
Greg Peterson - Glasgow Warriors (Scotland)
Mike Petri - NYAC
John Quill - NYAC
Blaine Scully - Cardiff RFC (Wales)
Hayden Smith - Saracens RFC (England)
Louis Stanfill - Seattle Saracens RFC
Andrew Suniula - CSM Bucuresti (Romania)
Shalom Suniula - Seattle Saracens RFC
Joseph Taufete'e - Belmont Shore RFC
Zack Test - Men's Eagles Sevens
Phil Thiel - Life Rugby
Brett Thompson - Men's Eagles Sevens
Chris Wyles - Saracens RFC (England)

Men's Eagles | Pacific Nations Cup Staff
Mike Tolkin - Head Coach
Justin Fitzpatrick - Assistant Coach (Forwards)
Nate Osborne - Assistant Coach (Backs/Attack)
Phil Bailey - Assistant Coach (Defence)
David Williams - Strength and Conditioning Coach
Chris O'Brien - Assistant Coach (Kicking/Video Analyst)
Paul Goulding - Video Analyst
Richard Quincy - Physiotherapist
Zach Vyhnanek - Physiotherapist
Sarah Sall - Massage Therapist
Matt Schmitz - Doctor
Sam Akhavan - Doctor
Steve Durant - Sports Psychologist
Matt McCarthy - Media Manager
Sean Lindersmith - Assistant Team Manager
Kevin Battle - Assistant Team Manager
Tristan Lewis - Team Manager

Men's Eagles | Pre-Rugby World Cup Tour
v. Canada - Saturday, Aug. 22 - 4 p.m. ET - Twin Elm Rugby Park - Ottawa, Ontario
v. Harlequin F.C. - Sunday, Aug. 30 - 3 p.m. ET - PPL Park - Chester, Pa.
v. Australia - Saturday, Sept. 5 - TBD - Soldier Field - Chicago, Ill.