The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was delayed a year. USA was in Pool C along with Kenya, Ireland, and South Africa. They opened with a 19-14 win over Kenya and followed with a 19-17 win over Ireland, guaranteeing them a spot in the medal round quarterfinals.
Pool C Squads
Ireland: Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis (c), Ian Fitzpatrick, Foster Horan, Jack Kelly, Terry Kennedy, Adam Leavy, Hugo Lennox, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Gavin Mullin, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche
Kenya: Eden Agero, Willy Ambaka, Andrew Amonde (c), Herman Humwa, Collins Injera, Billy Odhiambo, Jacob Ojee, Johnstone Olindi, Jeffrey Oluoch, Vincent Onyala, Alvin Otieno, Nelson Oyoo, Daniel Taabu
South Africa: Ronald Brown, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Angelo Davids, Selvyn Davids, Zain Davids, Chris Dry, Branco du Preez, Stedman Gans, Justin Geduld, Sako Makata, JC Pretorius, Siviwe Soyizwapi (c), Impi Visser
USA: Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Maceo Brown, Madison Hughes (c), Martin Iosefo, Carlin Isles, Matai Leuta, Cody Melphy, Folau Niua, Joe Schroeder, Brett Thompson, Stephen Tomasin, Kevon Williams
USA vs Kenya
Carlin Isles opened the scoring for Team USA with an unconverted try. This was followed by a try by Martin Iosefo, converted by Madison Hughes to lead 12-0.
Kenya answered back with a try by Collins Injera, which was converted to cut the lead to 12-7 at the break.
In the second half, Kenya took the lead after a try by Jeffrey Oluoch, which was converted, 12-14.
The USA answered back with a break by Kevon Williams with Madison Hughes finishing with a try and conversion to win 19-14.
USA Rugby Comments
On winning the match
“It’s great to get the win. I caught the ball, it looked a long, long way to the tryline. And I know Kenya, you’ve got some fast guys, so it was amazing to fight through because, at the end of the day, that’s what counts. But I think we’ll have to take a look at a few of the reasons we allowed them to get back into the match and kind of that middle period and what we can do to improve upon and prevent those small errors from creeping in.”
On Matai Leuta’s try-saving effort
“Matai Leuta absolutely fantastic effort. I think seeing the ball go over his head like that, probably on film. I don’t know if we would have picked it out if he didn’t turn, but incredible work, great working, pushing them, putting them under pressure. And that was the difference in the match.”
On their ability to win gold
“I think we know that we’re contenders and we know that we can be anyone, but every time we get on the pitch, we’ve got to prove that not only to ourselves but to the rest of the world.”
On growing the sport in America
“A lot of people don’t know about rugby, but America is one of the best in the world and we proved that a couple of years ago, we finished second in the world. So the more we do better, I think more people will get on to it because you can use your skillset. There’s a position for everybody. You don’t have to specialize in just one thing; but your talent, whether you’re being fast, slow, whatever it is — you can be used. And that’s big.”
On how rugby has changed
“Just watching it, you love it. And I think for us, the more we do the better, the more people will be able to see, it’s already caught on and gradually got bigger as the years went on, especially from when I first started playing. So, man, there’s no sport like it, I can tell you that much.”
USA vs Ireland
Team USA controlled much of the possession during the first half with Perry Baker scoring under the posts, making the conversion easy for Madison Hughes, 7-0.
The restart went to the ground and Hughes kicked ahead to add another try, 12-0.
Ireland answered back with a try by Hugo Lennox with captain Billy Dardis’s conversion attempt unsuccessful, 12-5.
In the second half, Ireland went through phases with Harry McNulty scoring in the right corner to cut the lead to 12-10.
A long break by Brett Thompson and a breakdown penalty created by Matai Leuta led to a Stephen Tomasin try under the posts, with Hughes converting, 19-10.
With the game in hand, Ireland’s Foster Horan breakdown steal added a try with Dardis converting for a final of 19-17 to Team USA.
Team USA will play in the Medal Quarterfinals and meets South Africa, who is also 2-0, next.
USA Rugby Comments
On today’s result
“I mean obviously it’s day one, so everybody wants to come out, performing their best and put their front foot forward and just be able to carry that momentum into Day Two. We have a few things we need to work on, but that’s with everything and we’ll, we’ll sharpen those tools and be ready for tomorrow.”
On competition at the Olympics
“It’s the biggest stage in sports and so everybody’s bringing their a game. So we just have to be prepared to bring ours as well. Match the effort.”
On the match with Ireland and tomorrow vs South Africa
“You know, we got tested against Ireland. They were a strong squad, physical, fast. And that’s what we’re going to expect from South Africa tomorrow, as well. And so they definitely push us to the limits so that we know what we need to work on going into that South Africa game.”
On a tight win over Ireland
“You know, it’s all about going into day two. We took care of the first few games, which was very important for us. So I feel good, no matter how we got the win.
On keys to defeating South Africa tomorrow
“Just stick to the cohesion that we have, you know, that brotherhood like trusting each other, communicating; watch your film and see what gameplay we need to come up with for these guys.”
South Africa vs USA
This will decide the Pool C winner, which will meet Argentina in the Medal Quarterfinals, while the loser faces Team Great Britain.
The USA took advantage of a South Africa penalty for being off their feet at the breakdown with Joe Schroeder scoring the first try, 0-5.
A long break by Danny Barrett went deep inside South Africa territory. The Blitzbok Sevens were penalized, but a USA penalty allowed them to clear.
A South Africa chip ahead had Martin Iosefo bringing the ball in goal and grounded which gave the Blitzbok Sevens a scrum. The ball went wide left with Selvyn Davids scoring in the left corner to level the match at 5 all at the break.
In the second half, a USA breakdown penalty led to a Stedman Gans try under the posts, which was then converted, 12-5.
An errant pass went off Madison Hughes hands and resulted in a Selvyn Davids try in the left corner, 17-5.
A long break by Brett Thompson led to a try under the posts with Hughes converting to cut the lead to 17-12.
With 30 seconds remaining, the restart went directly into touch and resulted in a South Africa free-kick,. and South Africa held on to defeat the USA.
The USA will meet Great Britain in the Medal Quarterfinals, while South Africa meets Argentina.
USA Rugby Comments
On the result against South Africa
“It was a physical game and the rain is finally coming into play so it caused some issues with handling in general for both sides. Unfortunately, we just didn’t adapt quick enough. Our goal was always to make the Cup Quarters. Coming out of the pool and having that opportunity for the medal rounds, that’s really all we can ask because we’re using this experience as a stepping stone for success in the matches ahead.”
On the road to get here
“We also have to remember that, for this group, it’s probably like the sixth game — not even — that we’ve played together since the 2020 season ended early. So, we’re making huge improvements as we go and that’s a challenge we’ll have when we go against Team GB next.”
On playing in an empty stadium
“It’s a massive, massive stadium and there’s no one in it. But, once you get on the field, you can’t tell. I mean, it’s a bit clearer your communication player to player, timid teammates a lot clearer; but at the same time, there still are moments when you can’t hear things or you don’t see things in the right spot. Everything outside the white lines is out of our control. We’re here to compete, we’re here to win a medal. We got great Britain in the quarterfinal and we’d love to get one over on them.”
On his love for the game
“I just love the sport. I love the community. I love the people that are around it. The people back home cheering us on my family and friends waking up at two o’clock in the morning to do that. I live and breathe this. I just love it so much.”