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Stanfill on Wallabies, Injuries, and the World Cup Dream

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Stanfill on Wallabies, Injuries, and the World Cup Dream

David Barpal photo.

The ideal for the USA National Team would be to go into Saturday night’s game against Australia with everything firing and everything positive.

But Scott LaValla fracturing his elbow in training kind of undercut that. The dismay of seeing a teammate in pain, and then realizing the World Cup dream is over for that teammate, and then also realizing that the team is losing one of its best players, all hurt.

“When an injury like Scott's happens, it is hard to say it does not affect team morale,” said longtime Eagle Lou Stanfill, who is on the subs bench for Saturday’s game with the Wallabies. “He is a pivotal contributor to this squad and his absence from the pitch is felt. But, for us to succeed, we must continue on with our day to day tasks and goals to become the best rugby team we can be. It is a harsh reality of sport, but one all athletes face. Accepting it is the first step to moving forward, and we have no other choice.” 

So they have to move on. It’s time to play Australia. If a team is ready for the World Cup, shouldn’t they be ready to face the best?

“In order to hang with Australia, we are going to have to play smart, error-free rugby,” said Stanfill. “While error-free rugby isn't something that ever happens, for us it means sticking to our systems and eliminating unnecessary penalties, drop balls, and things like that. We will also need to be steadfast on defense. Fast line speed and an emphasis on mucking up the breakdown have been a common theme that Coach Phil Bailey has drilled into us, and we are getting very efficient at it. As long as we minimize missed tackles, I believe we will provide ourselves the best opportunity to say we are on the right track going into the Rugby World Cup.”

Stanfill has been to the World Cup before. In 2007 he was still a young player, and came out of that experience having scored two tries, one against Samoa and one against Tonga. He played again in 2011, including against Australia,  and his eight RWC appearances put him tied for 3rd all-time among Eagles, behind Mike MacDonald and Alec Parker. 

Most observers say this year’s buildup has been unlike that of 2011 or 2007, both years where the squad had less solidity and more turmoil. But for Stanfill it’s also been a struggle as he has not been a regular starter.

“It does feel different, for good reasons and reasons that don't feel so good,” explained the former Cal All American and Jesuit HS star. “But this was my goal immediately following the 2011 World Cup, and I worked hard to make this dream a reality. This is a good time to be involved with the Men's National Team, and I am excited as can be for it.”

Injuries and obstacles aside, it’s that Rugby World Cup dream that continues to fuel the players.