The US scrum against Germany looked solid. Loosehead Olive Kilifi, who is, to say the least, a big unit, played a solid game. He played a hard 71 minutes which is surprising for a man of that size and his play was strong up until his exit. Along with Kilifi, the rest of the pack from 2 to 8 is that of international size. Joe Taufete’e stepped in at hooker and not only brought power and experience but set the tone offensively for this large pack. There was not one forward you could single out this week who didn’t have the size to hold his own. Not only did they have the size but they used it in a functional way.
Even without a steady professional league domestically, the US has a pack full of top-tier play. The 2 forwards in the spine of the team, hooker and 8-man, not only play in the Aviva Premiership but on the same team. Both hooker Joe Taufete’e and 8-man Andrew Durutalo play for the Worcester Warriors. Of the pack, five of the eight play either in the Aviva Premiership, Pro14, or Mitre 10 Cup; if you add in Kilifi, who plays for the Seattle based team in the MLR, it goes to six. This experience will be needed this week when they face Georgia. It is worth noting that this pack was without Samu Manoa who can add even more experience to this scrum.
This pack played the hard-hitting game that they knew they would need to against a team like Germany. From their defensive play to the crash balls in the 10-meter area, the pack stepped up to the plate. Two of the six tries scored were by forwards showing that they have the offensive tenacity to make a difference. The often overlooked facet of the offense, rucking, was on full display by the pack. While they didn’t play a perfect game, the rucking by the pack was solid all day, helping the backs perform to their best.
In conclusion, this pack is one of the better the US has fielded. After losing arguably the greatest player to suit up for the Eagles in Todd Clever, they filled the position with an experienced flanker in Tony Lamborn who plays in the Mitre 10 Cup. After securing the flank they built the scrum with experienced top-flight talent that will no doubt be put to the test next weekend against a strong and experienced Georgian scrum.
Author: Connor Wilkins
I grew up in Alabama in the US and have played for the past 8 years starting with the Birmingham Vulcans then to Spring Hill College where I recently served as forwards coach. I love northern hemisphere rugby and I write mostly about American rugby and pack play.