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Todd Clever To Set Cap Record for Eagles Against Russia

June 24, 2016

Todd Clever To Set Cap Record for Eagles Against Russia

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Photo: USA Rugby

Doug Coil

The USA Men’s Eagles conclude their 2016 Summer Series against Russia in Sacramento, California. The kickoff is set for 7pm PT and will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel prior to a delayed re-air on CBS Sports Network Sunday at 6 p.m. PT.

Todd Clever is set to break the all-time appearance record for the USA Men’s Eagles Saturday, June 26, when he co-captains the national team against Russia at Bonney Field. He is currently tied with Mike MacDonald with 67 caps.

Todd Clever will be at flanker, alongside Tony Lamborn with Cam Dolan at 8-man. Lamborn earned his first cap last week in the Eagles narrow loss to Italy.

Clever has had a number of achievements in his rugby career with the Eagles in addition to making his 68th appearance.  He is veteran of two Rugby World Cups and two Rugby World Cup Sevens in his almost 15-year career with the Eagles.He will be recognized for his accomplishment prior to kickoff Saturday.

John Mitchell, Eagles Head Coach said “Todd’s a warrior. He’s an inspiration when he plays at his level. He’s displayed exceptional maturity and mental strength to be a leader within the group, and both he and Blaine Scully work very well together as co-captains.”

Mitchell has made three changes to his starting XV. Two of these changes were due to injuries to Greg Peterson at Lock and Taku Ngwenya at Wing. Andrew Durutalo also returned to the Men’s Eagles Sevens camp.James King replaces Peterson and will be making his second appearance in a USA jersey teaming with Nate Brakeley behind the front row. Titi Lamositele, James Hilterbrand, and Chris Baumann will start again in the front row.

Mikey Te’o will replace Taku Ngwenya at wing. The rest of the backs will be the same with half backs Nate Augspurger and AJ MacGinty, centers Shalom Suniula and Thretton Palamo, the other wing,Blane Scully and Will Holder at Fullback.

John Mitchell has wanted to grow the leadership within the Eagles and had Todd Clever captaining the side in his hometown of San Jose. Blaine Scully has the honor this week, as the team plays in his hometown of Sacramento.

The team play inspired rugby for the entire match against Italy. It was only in the waning seconds before the match was decided. So the Eagles have made minimal changes.

Mitchell said “One of the difficulties you have with the national team is that continuity is always a challenge. We’ve planned to have a lot of continuity in terms of the playing group because that gives you the best chance to be coherent.”

There is a possibility of three new caps if Harry Higgins, Stephen Tomasin or Langilangi Haupeakui enter the match. Harry Higgins plays for the American Premiership club, Old Blue, Stephen Tomasin plays for the Men’s Eagles Sevens, while Langilangi Haupeakui palys for PRO Rugby’s Sacramento Express. Langilangi impressed the coaching staff in his stint this week as a day camper. He normally plays 8-man for the Express.

Harry Higgins and Stephen Tomasin also return to the reserves in what could be their first international caps, and Luke Hume has been named as a possible backs replacement. Earning his first call up to the national team is Langilangi Haupeakui of PRO Rugby‘s Sacramento Express, who impressed the coaching staff in training this week as a day-camper. A No. 8 for his professional side, the San Mateo native provides cover for the back row.

The front row is a demanding position, especially  if the temperatures soar. The front row reserves have all played for the Eagles. Props Ben Tarr and Angus Maclellan play for PRO Rugby’s Denver and Ohio teams, respectively. Joe Taufete’e plays Hooker for the San Diego Breakers.

Luke Hume is also a reserve. He is a talented, crafty player from Old Blue, who generated excitement at the Americas Rugby Championship while playing wing. Chad London has been playing excellent rugby for the Denver Stampede

Michell continued to talk about the Eagles in explaining that “The important thing is not to focus on outcome or allow outcome to be your motivation. Certainly we want to improve our performance but this week has been very much focused on improving the components within the plan. We were pleased with the way they stayed on plan against Italy.”

“We also need to get a reward for the work that’s been put in this assembly, which allows us to continue to build the belief in what we have been doing. We’re creating a culture the players like coming back into, and likewise for some of the players that haven’t been available to date. The main thing is that it’s a learning culture.”

The Eagles have played Russia six times since 2004, winning each of these matches. This will be only the second time the Eagles have played them at home.

Russia has made eight changes in their starting XV, since their opening June test loss, 46-21 last weekend against Canada.

Russia has replaced their entire front row with Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Matveev and Evgeny Pronenko starting in place of Azamat Bitiev, Nazir Gasanov and Innokentiy Zykov. Both Bitiev and Gasanov will be reserves. The other forward change is Pavel Butenko at Flanker in place of Andrey Temnov.

In the backs there are four changes. Rushan Iagudin will be the scrumhalf, as Alexey Shcherban moves to the reserves. Kirill Golosnitskiy enters at outside center, as Dmitry Gerasimov shifts to inside center. Denis Simplikevich wil be at wing and Ramil Gaisin at fullback. The captain, Vasily Artemyev, shifts from fullback to wing.

Men’s Eagles  
1. Titi Lamositele 2. James Hilterbrand 3. Chris Baumann 4. James King 5. Nate Brakeley 6. Todd Clever 7. Tony Lamborn 8. Cam Dolan 9. Nate Augspurger 10. AJ MacGinty 11. Blaine Scully (C) 12. Shalom Suniula 13. Thretton Palamo 14. Mikey Te’o 15. Will Holder 16. Joe Taufete’e 17. Ben Tarr 18. Angus MacLellan 19. Harry Higgins 20. Langilangi Haupeakui 21. Stephen Tomasin 22. Chad London 23. Luke Hume

Russia 
1. Alexey Volkov 2. Evgeny Matveev 3. Evgeny Pronenko 4. Andrei Garbuzov 5. Denis Antonov 6. Viktor Gresev 7. Pavel Butenko 8. Anton Rudoi 9. Rushan Iagudin 10. Yury Kushnarev 11. Vasily Artemyev (C) 12. Dmitry Gerasimov 13. Kirill Golosnitskiy 14. Denis Simplikevich 15. Ramil Gaisin 16. Nazir Gasanov 17. Azamat Bitiev 18. Vladimir Podrezov
19. Evgeny Elgin 20. Danila Chegodaev 21. Alexey Shcherban 22. Evgeny Kolomiitsev 23. Anton Ryabov

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