USA fullback Chris Wyles is tackled by his opposite Igor Klyuchnikov during the USA v Russia Pool C match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup. Photo by Andrew Cornaga.
Tim Usasz celebrates at the full time whistle. Photo by Andrew Cornaga.
Photo by Andrew Cornaga.
In heartland New Zealand last night, 15,000 people came to New Plymouth’s Rugby Park (voted the 3rd most spectacular Rugby ground in the world) and saw a great performance from the USA Eagles Rugby World Cup team. We subdued the Russian Bear to win 13-6 in a terrific display of heart, passion, and commitment. Over 1.2 million people in New Zealand tuned in to watch this classic USA versus USSR encounter. Before the game, we were hosted by the US Ambassador, David Huebner, and a fantastic street party kicked the evening off. The US Marines from Hawaii played a tremendous set from the rooftops (reminiscent of the Beatles at Abbey Road) and then went into the street to bring traffic to a stop as everyone photographed and videoed this terrific band playing upbeat American jazz. The streets were crammed with US supporters decked out in Stars and Stripes, face painting, great costumes ranging from the Wild West to the current day. The Marine band then put on their dress uniform and paraded through the town and onto the pitch to great acclaim. The warmth towards the US from the Taranaki people was amazing. We watched the game next to NZ Prime Minister, John Key, who was a passionate supporter of our efforts and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Zhukov who handled the disappointment pretty well (maybe they are getting used to it). Celebrations continued after the game at L’Escargot, a terrific French Brassiere in New Plymouth, until USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville and Vice Chairman Bob Latham and I finally called it a day at 3:00am. A great day for USA Rugby.