Pool A - United States
In five tournaments, the Eagles won just two games, a trend of rugby mediocrity that looks set to continue. A second-tier team, the Eagles have two fundamental flaws; they lack a solid professional core, and they are dogged by an inability to compete against stronger rugby nations. Most of the Eagles squad play in the US semi-professional Super League. This is not an elite league, and the exclusion of some of the country's strongest rugby clubs questions the league's premier division status. Thus, the majority of the Eagles do not compete against quality opposition on a regular basis.
Six squad members play rugby outside of America with European clubs such as Bezzier, Waterloo and Leeds Carnegie, however, these teams play rugby well below the top echelons of European rugby.
Sharing Pool A with international heavyweights South Africa and England, the US will not qualify to the knockout stages. The game with Tonga will be closely contested and the Eagles will hope to put in a strong performance against Samoa.
Coach: Peter Thorbum (NZ)
Captain: Phil Vickery
IRB Ranking: 15
Appearances: 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003
Odds to win: 5000/1
Number of clubs: 570
Number of Registered players: 63,254
Matches MT W D L
13 2 0 11
Points For Against
Scores Tr Con Pen DG
21 17 21 2
Born in Virginia of Australian parents, Mike Hercus is the Eagles' starting fly-half, place kicker and one of the most experienced Eagles professionals having played with Sale Sharks, Newport Gwent Dragons and Llanelli Scarlets. Hercus presently plays club rugby for Belmont Shore (USA Super League). A nippy fly-half, Hercus is the Eagles' top scorer with 361 test points including 51 points at his debut world Cup in 2003.
With 62 caps since his test debut against Ireland in January 1996, Gross is the Eagles' most experienced player, although he has yet to score at international level. At a towering at 6'9” and 120 kg in weight, Gross adds some much-needed bulk and power to the Eagles' pack.
Currently playing for Doncaster Knights, Gross has had a successful professional career, seeing game-time at various European club sides.
Centre Paul Emerick is the Eagles' most threatening player, his fast, skillfull passing and speedy midfield gain line breaks adding menace to the Eagles' attack in open play.
Currently playing at Newport Gwent Dragons, Emerick has established himself as a crowd favourite. His recent game-winning try against Calvisano secured the Dragon's Heineken Cup spot for another season.
Rugby in the USA
Rugby was played in North America from the 1870's, mostly by English ex-pats, with the first recorded match being played in 1874 between Harvard and McGill Universities. The Americans won gold in rugby union at the 1924 Olympics, the last time rugby was a sport in the games. After this the sport suffered a serious decline in America, remerging in the 1960's. The national team first competed in the Rugby World Cup in 1987 under the name The Eagles.