The USA has no chance against Australia, right?
Forget about the talk that it's a second team Aussie lineup - that's silly, considering this group is no worse than the 16th through 30th best players in Australia. Consider also that whenever a supposed 2nd Tier I team plays the USA, the players in that group end up being World Cup final starters a year or two later.
In 1999, when the USA really tested a supposed under-strength Australia team, Matt Burke, Stephen Larkham, Chris Latham, Michael Foley, and Tiaan Strauss all played in that match. All of those were or became major stars.
So scoff if you like about who the Eagles are playing, they are playing against a very, very good team.
But that doesn't mean it's over with already. Even if the USA is running out a lineup that is clearly not the front-line group Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has picked before. The Eagles are resting 14 starters from the game against Russia, but all of the starters for Friday have been capped. Some have been regular starters for some time. It's certainly a different lineup, but does it have to be a capitulation.
No it doesn't, and our thoughts go to Rugby Magazine columnist Brian Hightower, who wrote this in his column about his memories of the 1999 World Cup:
Our final match against the Wallabies was at Thomond Park in Limerick. The Park has legendary importance as the site where, on October 31, 1978, the mighty men of Munster took down the vaunted New Zealand All Blacks, 12-0. The match is so firmly embedded in Irish lore that the people of Limerick, 21 years later, kept citing the historic victory as if in expectation that we could best the Australians on their magical pitch. (Thus is whar Moonster bit the Ahl Blocks! Soo, ya jest nayyyver noo!)
We may not have beaten Australia, but we did have a good match. In contrast to our puckered style from the week before against Romania, we played loose and flung the ball around a little. We had nothing to lose, and our style followed suit. In the first half, Alec Parker touched down for what was surely a try. Were the rugby gods smiling on Thomond Park again? Apparently not, as the ref ruled that the ball was held up. (You still can’t mention this event to Parker without his face turning red.) Minutes later, after rolling through a few phases, center Jean Grobler dove across the line for a historic World Cup try.
I had a role to play in the score, and it has helped cement my understanding of the beauty of this game forever. In the ruck before Grobler touched down, I was the first to the ball, and drove into the fray. The ball was getting tied up by the concealed hands of a few Wallaby forwards. I took to my work like a miner, burrowed into the mound, and helped produce a usable ball. I had scored many tries in my time, some that were athletic, some that won international matches, but they all paled in comparison to being in that one ruck. The essential truth about rugby is that for every back that soars across the goal line, there are 14 men who have made his flight possible. It’s not as though I’d never been in a ruck before, its just that all these years later, when recounting my World Cup experience, the best memory I have is of prying fat Australian fingers off of our ball and the small part it played in that try. Plus, it only happened once in the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Throughout the rest of the event, the USA would be the only team to score a try (OK Parker, two tries.) against the eventual winners. France got close in the final, but couldn’t finish. Suck on that, France.
So maybe there's not a win in the cards, but there is a special memory, a special play. No one, really, gives the USA a chance. Isn't this, then, the best time for the Americans to throw caution to the wind, seize the moment, and do something special?