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USA Selects Match Day 23 to Fale Chile in Santiago

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USA Selects Match Day 23 to Fale Chile in Santiago

Hanco Germishuys slides over from #6 to #7. Photo USA Rugby.

The USA Men's 15s team has been picked to take on Chile Saturday at Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago.

This is the first of a two-game Rugby World Cup qualifier. The game kicks off at 6PM ET and will be shown live by FloRugby—go here to sign up for FloRugby to watch>>

Head Coach Gary Gold has made a few changes from the starting 15 that beat the French Barbarians last Friday. Joe Taufete'e replaces Kapeli Pifeleti at hooker, while Benjamin Bonasso replaces Moni Tonga'uiha in the back row. Despite a pretty stellar debut, Mitch Wilson makes way for the powerful and experienced Martin Iosefo at left wing, 

All of those changes are a move to more power and more experience. Taufete'e, the most prolific tight five try-scorer in World Rugby history with 21 test tries, bolsters an already solid front row as Gold will be looking for security and accuracy in both the scrums and the lineouts. Flyhalf AJ MacGinty, who scored 10 points against the French Barbarians, returns as captain. MacGinty has exactly 300 test points for the USA, which is second-most among USA players behind Mike Hercus.

The bench is somewhat changed, too. Angus MacLellan (Traverse Bay, Davenport, five caps) comes in as a front row reserve, and former Clemson University standout loose forward Jason Damm could earn his first cap if he comes in off the bench. An injury has Paul Lasike unavailable and in a nod to how physical he expects the game to be, Gold has opted for a sixth forward on the bench, bringing in former Peninsula Green star Tevita Tameilau, who is with the San Diego Legion, to bolster the reserves. Tameilau has been capped 15 times but that is over a period of six years. He has bounced in and out of favor, and has a huge opportunity here.

The Eagle Journey for Pen Green Alum Tameilau

This is a two-game series, with the first game being played Saturday in Santiago and the second a week later in Glendale, Colo. (sold out, by the way). The USA is hoping to bounce back from a pretty iffy showing against Uruguay that saw Los Teros secure RWC qualification last summer. Chile, which lost to Uruguay in their series, then beat Canada in a series that eliminated the Canadians from a World Cup berth. The winner of this current two-game series will go into France 2023 as Americas #2. The loser still has one more shot, being the final qualifier tournament held in November. 

All of the points-scorers from the French Barbarians game—Christian Dyer, David Ainu'u, MacGinty, Ruben de Haas, and Luke Carty—return to the gameday 23. Carty, the backup flyhalf/fullback, is on the bench.

With only two backs in reserve some versatility will be needed. Nate Augspurger can play scrumhalf or wing. Carty can play flyhalf or fullback. Starting fullback Marcel Brache can play center, wing, or fullback, which gives Gold options should he need them.

“I am incredibly proud of the performance we put out in Houston. It was a short assembly period with the full squad, so I’m pleased with our early defensive effort and expect to see the same this Saturday," said Gold. "We allowed the French Barbarian’s back in the game as time went on last week – with a few corrections needed at our set piece – but I’m confident we can play our game as we need to on the road.

South America is always a challenging arena to play in on the road, so setting the pace early as we did last week, will be important against this hungry Chilean side.”

USA vs Chile Game 1 Lineup
Position Name Club
1 David Ainu’u Toulouse (FRA)
2 Joe Taufete’e LA Giltinis
3 Paul Mullen Utah Warriors
4 Nick Civetta Rugby New York
5 Greg Peterson Newcastle Falcons (ENG)
6 Ben Bonasso Rugby New York
7 Hanco Germishuys LA Giltinis
8 Cam Dolan NOLA Gold
9 Ruben de Haas Saracens (ENG)
10 AJ MacGinty (C) Sale Sharks (ENG)
11 Martin Iosefo Seattle Seawolves
12 Bryce Campbell Austin Gilgronis
13 Tavite Lopeti Seattle Seawolves
14 Christian Dyer Houston SaberCats
15 Marcel Brache Austin Gilgronis
16 Kapeli Pifeleti Saracens (ENG)
17 Chance Wenglewski Rugby New York
18 Angus MacLellan Utah Warriors
19 Siaosi Mahoni Houston SaberCats
20 Jason Damm Rugby ATL
21 Tevita Tameilau San Diego Legion
22 Nate Augspurger San Diego Legion
23 Luke Carty LA Giltinis