HOUSTON, TX. – The U.S. Men’s National Team has astounded the world. For the first time in 94 years — since their victory over France in the 1924 Olympic Games — the United States has defeated a Tier 1 Nation. In an absolute thriller at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, the Men’s Eagles held an unparalleled defensive front to seal a 30-29 win over No. 6 World Ranked Scotland. Though the Scottish nailed a try in the final minute, the conversion was missed and the U.S. sailed away with the victory.
“Really, really happy and satisfied that we can go toe to toe with world class teams. The issue is now that we have to do that consistently. We have to continue to get better and better,” said Head Coach Gary Gold, thrilled for this team’s inspiring energy. “We have a plan, when we stick to the plan and there’s clarity in the player’s minds in terms of what we need to do, then you take the pressure off their shoulders and they can go out and do what they need to do.”
After drawing first blood within the opening minutes, Scotland had made a statement. The United States threatened a few times in the Scottish half but the opposition was successful at keeping the Eagles out of the tryzone.
USA would launch their first points on a penalty goal from AJ MacGinty, before the Scottish had relentlessly pushed their way into Eagle territory to nail their second try of the game, 3-14. Eagle Samu Manoa drew a yellow for a high tackle on the play, forcing him out of the match and leaving the U.S. with one man less to play with.
Though the advantage was all for Scotland, the United States remained in the game. With an opportunity to kick for points on a Scottish penalty, AJ MacGinty launched another through the posts and put the U.S. up, 6-14. By this point, it was evident the Scottish had converted the match into a skillful kicking game. Launching the ball back and forth across the pitch, the Eagles’ opponent won the ball from a lineout for George Turner to dot down, 6-21.
Though the scoreboard weighed heavy in Scotland’s favor, the United States would soon be unleashed.
Captain Blaine Scully took the ball on the outside, passed to Hanco Germishuys who valiantly kept it alive for the ruck. Inch by inch the squad moved closer to the goal line until Joe Taufete’e reached over and sealed the try, 13-21. Scotland took a penalty goal shortly after and both teams went into their lockers for the half.
When both teams returned, the Eagles had proven the second half was any man’s game. Dominating possession and making tactical decisions at the breakdown, the U.S. exposed Scottish penalties to gain more ground and move themselves up.
With all speed and all power, Joe Taufete’e bulldozed his way through the Scottish pack — crawling at one point — to push his way over the line and win his second try — his fourth of the summer overall — 20-24. A penalty goal by AJ MacGinty would sneak across the bar minutes later and the Men’s Eagles were within one point of taking the lead.
Short breakaways and careful offloads kept possession with USA, as the team continued to threaten deep in Scotland’s half.
Scotland returned to their kicking ways until USA’s AJ MacGinty caught grip on the ball and broke away within five meters of the line. Careful offloads and a deadly pass from MacGinty allowed Hanco Germishuys to put it away and capture the lead, 30-24.
The Scottish had their dance with possession over the final ten minutes of play, breaking away to launch one final attack past the U.S. 22.
For what felt like hours, the United States defense would channel every ounce of energy into holding the Scotland line. Offload after offload, scrum after scrum, the Men’s Eagles kept a tight formation until Scotland finally snuck over the line, 30-29. Fans at BBVA Compass Stadium held their breaths for what felt like the longest final minute in rugby history. But, as the kick soared through the air, the ball missed its mark and jaws dropped for the U.S. victory.
The win marks the biggest for the U.S. Men’s National Team since their defeat of France at the 1924 Olympics; back when XVs was represented in the Games. With the upset, the United States will remain at No. 15 in the World Rankings, less than half a point behind World Cup Pool Opponent Tonga (No. 14) who recently defeated No. 16 Samoa, keeping USA in place.
The Men’s National Team holds onto their undefeated record of 2018, now moving to 7-0, as they take on rival-Canada next Saturday in Halifax, N.S. The match kicks off at 3 PM ET, LIVE on FloRugby.
Credit: USA Rugby / Photo Credit: Norma Salinas