The USA Men’s National Team did everything that was asked of them Saturday, and still came up short, said USA Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan. But the coach told RUGBYMag.com that he was discouraged – disappointed, yes, but not discouraged.
“I was disappointed the way we ended,” O’Sullivan told RUGBYMag.com, referring to Georgia’s try at the end of the game that won if for the hosts 19-17. “But it was always going to be very close. It was a hostile environment; they had about 35,000 fans there and when Nese [Malifa] was lining up kicks you couldn’t hear yourself think. “
But the Eagles showed huge improvement in several areas.
“We scrimmaged really well,” O’Sullivan said. “Georgia right now is one of the best scrimmaging teams in world rugby and we managed to scrum well. Still, I think the one play they’d want in the final minute would be a scrum on our line and that’s what they got.”
O’Sullivan said the forwards manned up superbly, especially in defending the maul – Georgia’s maul went nowhere – and in defending around the fringes.
“I was very proud of the boys; the guys really fronted up,” he said. “We played some good rugby. They have a big kicking game and they used it but we kept our shape. It was a very physical game and quick ruck ball was very difficult. It was always going to be a tight down, and while we’re a bit bummed out we lost, I am very proud of the team, and we went down swinging.”
The game, O’Sullivan added, “was definitely our best performance of the tour. We worked our way out of our red zone really well. We strategized, we cleared our lines well and handled the pressure. We’ll find moments where we made mistakes, but overall it was a good performance. We matched them for physicality, improved our scrum dramatically, and defended really, really well. Our defense was excellent, physicality with a lot of smarts. Yes we lost on the last play of the game, but I am pleased with a lot about the game.”