Tim Maupin isn’t the biggest back you’ll encounter and he’s not the fastest, but against Canada Selects in Tuesday’s Americas Rugby Championship game, he was immense.
The former De La Salle high-schooler (four years of rugby and a teammate of current USA Selects teammate Derek Asbun) and former St. Mary’s All American made several crucial runs in the early going on Tuesday, scored two tries, and made an impressive, try-saving tackle to help slow Canada’s attempted comeback.
For Maupin, it was something of a coming out party, although mitigated by the fact that Joe Cowley had a superb day with his goalkicking and Cam Dolan, Tai Tuisamoa, Nick Wallace, and Shaun Davies all had big days, too.
But Maupin, despite playing on the wing, was heavily involved from the start.
“We watched the Argentina game and we saw how well we played but we missed our opportunities,” Maupin told RUGBYMag.com.
“We also started really slowly - it took us 15-20 minutes to really get going. So we decided we would take the fight to them and try to dominate them physically - run hard lines and make two, three guys tackle us. If we put the challenge on them and not run lazily into a wall of defenders, we’d make the gain line and would be more likely to score. It was a team-wide thing.”
It worked. Maupin helped put the USA in position to score, and then capped it off with the first try – coming in off his wing to take a Toby L’Estrange pass and truck through a massive hole to go in under the posts.
“Coach Tolkin and Coach Billy [Millard] talked about how the blindside wings need to be there and have a high work rate - not just wait on the wing for the ball but be an option in support. Toby told me on Monday that with Mile crashing it up, if the inside center bites on that and the outside center goes out, there should be a hole, and I should line up behind him and be ready. And there was a huge hole.”
Later in the game, with the score 23-3, Canada threatened. Sub wing Joe Dolesau sped down the sideline and looked in at the corner. But Maupin came across from the far wing to tackle Dolesau into touch.
That saved a try – Canada wouldn’t get their lone try until nine minutes later, leaving them precious little time to overcome the 13-point deficit.
“Joe Cowley [at fullback] was doing a really good job of communicating with his wings, and we knew that guy was quick,” said Maupin. “Joe was already pulling me over there, but once he broke that first tackle, he’s got a lot of green in front of him. I figured I better get over there. I thought he might pass it, but he kept it and I was able to tackle him.”
Then up 23-10 the USA Selects put the game away with Maupin’s second try. Titi Lamositele tackled Dolesau, jarring loose the ball, which fell to L’Estrange. The flyhalf quickly passed to Chris Chapman, who took off.
“I thought Chappo was going to go in, but the guy tackled him so I yelled ‘Chapman pop pop!’ and he got it to me. That was the easy part for me - make sure I don’t drop the ball and run in.”
That capped off a solid game for Maupin, a game that must have raised his stock.
“I love playing rugby and playing tougher opponents in this atmosphere,” said Maupin. “Either it’s a humbling experience and I learn what I need to improve on, or it’s a situation where I think, great, I can hang with these guys. I really want to keep at this.”
We agree. Tim Maupin is our Rhino Rugby/RUGBYMag.com Player of the Week.