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GRR Analysis on USA WVX2 Game 1

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GRR Analysis on USA WVX2 Game 1

Photo Johan Rynners - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images.

The kicking game and managing the wind are key work-ons for the USA as they prepare for Round 2 of the WXV this weekend in South Africa.

Correspondent Hanno Van Vuuren, who provides professional rugby analysis for a variety of rugby teams in the USA, has some insight into where the Eagles succeeded, and where they didn't.

The Geography

Stellenbesch University's rugby fields are situated at the foot of a small group of mountains, and those mountains affect the wind. In the USA vs Samoa game the wind was coming between the mountains and swirling around un predictably. For the most part the Eagles played with the wind in the first half and played against the wind in the second half.

Positives 1st Half

The Eagles ran a strong tempo in their game, ran an effective maul, and their pick-and-go game also produced meters. They were 8-for-9 on lineouts in the first half, but only set up the maul twice. Defensively the USA structure handled the big Samoans carriers, putting two defenders into contact and not giving up too much territory.

Debutante center Mata Hingano was indeed as good as the scoresheet indicates, as she also set up tries and continually broke through.

Areas of Concern

The USA kicking, especially finding touch, was an issue. They missed three kicks to touch—whether that was because of trying to gain too much distance or not handling the wind right we aren't sure.

Positives 2nd Half

The USA started with intensity and decided to keep the ball in hand while playing against the wind. They were relatively successful in this but getting out of their 22 was difficult. Several present moves in the backline provided variations and these led to gainline success.

Areas of Concern

Getting out of their end into the wind was difficult. In the second part of the second half the arrival of the players from the reserves bench coincided with Samoa's smarter use of the wind, leading to two late tries for Samoa.

Looking Ahead to Scotland

Scotland scored four maul tries against South Africa on Friday night. The USA did not have a chance to work on their maul defense as Samoa predominantly played off the top. 

However this expansive attack from the USA might be the key to unlocking the Scottish defense. Although defensive lapses did occur the last two minutes of the match, this actually also serves to illustrate the success of the USA defensive system. Individual breakdowns (not in the right place, a missed tackle) led to Samoa tries.


The USA has to watch that dropoff later in the game—if it's fitness then the replacement players have to be prepared to bring not only intensity but accuracy. Against Scotland they will have to adapt to the Scots' maul, which is quite strong. And in terms of exiting out of their own 22, the Eagles can mix running and kicking (and a run-to-kick), but it's the balance and accuracy that needs to improve.