September 12, 2019 / 6:58 AM / 9 days ago

Factbox: Rugby-World Cup-United States

(Reuters) - Factbox on the United States team for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where they will compete in Pool C:

UNITED STATES

World ranking: 13

The Eagles fly into Japan looking to build on the progress they have made in the current World Cup cycle but have their work cut out in a pool with three tier one sides they have never beaten in the modern era.

After failing to win a match at the 2015 World Cup, USA have taken strides by winning the Americas Rugby Championship twice (2017 and 2018) and reaching the Pacific Nations Cup decider last month, where they eventually fell to Japan.

Pool C will provide a whole different level of competition, however, with the Eagles set to play England, France and Argentina in their first three matches, before finishing up with fellow Pacific Nations side Tonga.

The Americans have never made it out of the pool stage and their best showing has been a single victory – a feat they have achieved just three times out of seven World Cup appearances.

To improve on that result Gary Gold’s men will need to take their match against Tonga, two spots below them at number 15 in the world rankings, and look to steal a win against France or Argentina.

COACH

Gary Gold (South Africa)

The Cape Town native took the helm at USA rugby in 2018 and in his first year helped lead the Eagles to their second consecutive Americas Rugby Championship title.

Gold was an assistant coach for South Africa under Peter de Villiers for the 2011 Rugby World Cup cycle as well as head coach for professional sides including Newcastle Falcons, Bath and Japan’s Kobelco Steelers.

KEY PLAYER

AJ MacGinty

The 29-year-old Irish-born flyhalf, who plays his club rugby with Sale Sharks, made his USA debut in 2015 and appeared in three of the Americans’ four World Cup matches that year.

MacGinty has shown composure with the boot, sealing victory over Samoa at the Pacific Nations Cup last month with a penalty on the final play, in an echo of his last-gasp drop goal that put the Eagles past Canada at the same tournament in 2015.

MacGinty left the Pacific Nations finale early with an ankle injury in the loss to Japan but has been cleared to play.

Captain: Blaine Scully

Squad:

Forwards - David Ainu’u, Malon Al-Jiboori, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, Cam Dolan, Dylan Fawsitt, Eric Fry, Hanco Germishuys, James Hilterbrand, Olive Kilifi, Tony Lamborn, Titi Lamositele, Ben Landry, Paul Mullen, Gregor Peterson, Ben Pinkelman, John Quill, Joseph Taufete’e

Backs - Blaine Scully, Nate Augspurger, Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Shaun Davies, Ruben De Haas, Will Hooley, Martin Iosefo, Paul Lasike, AJ MacGinty, Will Magie, Thretton Palamo, Mike Te’o.

WORLD CUP RECORD

W - 3, L - 22, D - 0

Tournaments: 7

Last World Cup: Pool stage (2015)

Best finish: Pool stage (1987, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)

Compiled by Chris Gallagher and Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru

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