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Malcolm Impresses in Eagles Debut

National Teams

Malcolm Impresses in Eagles Debut

Peter Malcolm takes a run at the Uruguayan defense. Colleen McCloskey photo.

Newly-capped Eagle hooker Peter Malcolm had plenty of pressure on him this past weekend, and he came through quite well as the USA defeated Uruguay 29-23 in San Antonio.

Malcolm, who played his high school rugby for Trojan RFC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and just finished up his college career with Wheeling Jesuit, is set for big things. One of those big things, of course, was his first ever USA game, where he was expected to be a part of a huge scrum effort designed to counter-act the Uruguayan pack, and, as the lineout thrower, he was under pressure to produce with the Eagles' best chance at first-phase possession. 

You'd forgive him for not sleeping on Friday night, but Malcolm told Goff Rugby Report that he was fine.

"I'd pretty much gotten through most of my nerves by that night so I was just focused on my roles," Malcolm said. "The only thing that really worried me was my lineout throwing."

Basically it comes down to this for the USA when the Eagles play strong-scrummaging teams - you can't expect the scrum to necessarily produce the best first-phase ball, so your lineout better work well. And if you lineout doesn't work well, then your opponent can commit more penalties and get away with it, because your kicks to touch won't result in good possession.

For Malcolm, an early not-straight turned out not to be a harbinger of a difficult day, as he was crucially on target the rest of the game.

"I was reasonably happy," he said. "I had that one not straight early and then we had a full lineout miscommunication on one. I ended up 11-for-13 on our ball, which the coaches seemed pretty happy with, and I was happy with as well. Obviously the goal is 100 percent but It's a good starting point and I've got some confidence from the performance."

In the scrums, Malcolm praised props Chris Baumann and Anthony Purpura for their efforts.

"My body height could have been better, but overall we did hold our own," he said. "I would like to get to the point where we gain some dominance over an opposing front row. [Baumann and Purpra] did a great job and made my job as a hooker much easier."

The game was more than the scrums and lineouts, of course, and the Eagles were in a tight tussle the entire time. Malcolm said the talk among the players during the game was consistently positive.

"We just needed to up the tempo on them, which we did in the last 20 to good effect," he said. 

So on to the next challenge, which will be Brazil. Getting his first cap, Malcolm knows he hasn't arrived, but it's a big step, and it's worth looking back on those who helped him.

"I was very fortunate to have unbelievable coaching from the time I was 14 on," he said. "My coaches at Trojan, Don Stramanack, Bill Marts, and Jeff Oxenrieder, did so well to give me a good overall understanding of the game and get me experience playing higher levels of rugby with the Florida Juice all-star team. Jesuit was similar, Eric Jerpe was the coach for most of my time there and he had so much rugby knowledge and grew my tactical rugby understanding and my skill levels so much in my time there."