USA vs. Chile Preview: Eagles A Victory Away From France World Cup

Another game.

The US men’s national rugby team is so close to another Rugby World Cup that they can almost taste it. After the Adler’s victory in the first qualifying game against Chile, the hardest part is already over – surviving the away game largely unscathed.

Now the Eagles are returning home with their sights set on a spot at next year’s World Championship – and with the comfort of home fans at their side. The American rugby scene is growing rapidly, from the success of Major League Rugby to securing host status for the World Cup in 2031. A trip to France in style next year would play a key role in maintaining this positive momentum.

Here’s a look at what to expect when USA take on Chile in the second leg of their two-legged Rugby World Cup qualifying playoff, with the test (scheduled for Saturday 3pm ET) being streamed live on FloRugby.

where things are

Though things got ugly at times – a torrential downpour and a mud-clogged pitch at the Estadio Santa Laura didn’t help – the Eagles’ narrow 22-21 win away in Santiago was a huge contributor to their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.

Simply put, a win or a draw this weekend at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado will be enough to put the USA back on top in international rugby. It would be their seventh consecutive qualifier and ninth overall, but with the Americans being clear favourites, the home crowd would probably appreciate a little more momentum in the second leg.

If the Eagles actually get the job done, they’ll get their ticket to a brutal Pool D in France next fall against 2019 runners-up (England), two other top-10 finishers in Argentina and Japan, beat Samoa, against the USA compete with 2:5 all time.

But if Chile were to shock America on its own turf and set its first Rugby World Cup trip in stone, it would mean the Eagles would be sent to the Final Qualification Tournament later that year, where they faced a group of Portugal, Kenya and either Tonga or Hong Kong for a place in Pool C, which includes Australia, Wales, Fiji and Georgia.

The goal is as simple as it can be for coach Gary Gold’s Eagles: win and they’re in.

United States

World ranking (as of 7/11): 17

Rugby World Cup appearances: 1987, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019

The facts: Should the USA be disappointed that they didn’t show a more dominant performance in the first leg? Maybe, but considering the many external factors — inclement weather, stadium lights literally going out — it’s an overall positive that the Eagles don’t have to play from behind in the friendly confines of suburban Denver.

USA, a Rugby World Cup mainstay, are now just 80 minutes away from making it back to the top of the hill – and they could win the feat in front of home fans. However, one of the main differences between this team and the one that played in Japan three years ago is that there are many new faces who could make an impression in France.

Wing Christian Dyer is a prime example. The 24-year-old 6ft-2 star and Houston SaberCats star only made his debut last summer after already earning a spot with the Eagles XV, scoring an early try in the first leg against Chile.

Overall, 16 members of the 34-man roster have fewer than 10 caps for the Eagles, two of which — Dyer and Nutte Kapeli Pifeleti — crossed the try-line in Santiago. Still, there are plenty of veteran leaders in the mix, such as AJ MacGinty (America’s top scorer in the last two World Cups) and backline Cam Dolan, who officially became the all-time all-time scoring U.S. international (March 30) following the Eagles’ win over Chile Test wins) was.

Gold tactically balances youth and veterans and could very well lead the South African to his second World Championship on the Eagles sideline.

Chile

World ranking (as of 7/11): 24

Rugby World Cup appearances: none

The facts: There’s no glossing over it: Chile needs a small miracle at this point to secure a spot at the World Cup. Nonetheless, underdog Los Condores has put in a lot of effort to get to this point, already upsetting a Worlds mainstay once this qualifying cycle by eliminating Canada last October as the Canucks will miss the tournament for the first time in their tournament Story.

However, beating the USA in Colorado – where the Eagles have won both qualifiers played there – will be a tall order. The Chileans are full of good players and can be dangerous, allowing the Test to become competitive in spurts. A great example is fly-half Rodrigo Fernandez’s world-class 80-yard attempt against the Americans in Santiago, an incredible run that saw the 26-year-old Juke and Jive run past an Eagles defense across a muddy field.

Coach Pablo Lemoine’s side are a cohesive 32-man squad, with all but seven players plying their trade at club level for Chilean side Selknam. If they qualify for the World Cup in any way, coach Pablo Lemoine’s men will become national heroes, whether it’s beating the USA or winning the Final Qualification Tournament.

Still, Chile is still 5-1 with the Eagles and has a minus 212 point difference over the team after battling heavily in the past. Even if that trend continues in the second leg this weekend, Chilean rugby day could come soon enough.

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