SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The USA Rugby Junior All-Americans have gone three from three in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy and will now face Japan in the championship game tomorrow (Saturday June 30) at 6 p.m. MDT at Murray Rugby Park in Murray, Utah.
The three wins came against tournament favorites Tonga (22-11), Chile (54-25), and the USA capped off pool play with a 36-13 win over Russia. If they are able to best the Japanese, who have appeared in three consecutive JWRT finals including this year, the USA will advance to the premier Junior Rugby tournament in the world, the IRB Junior World Championship in 2013.
USA Head Coach Scott Lawrence has named the 22-man roster that will suit up in the red, white, and blue against a very technical Japanese side tomorrow.
The personnel Lawrence has starting in the final reflects the combinations he has been evaluating since late May, notably the seemingly favored halfback pairing of Nick Boyer and Will Magie will run out for the USA.
The match up of Magie and his Japanese counterpart (and captain) Jumpei Ogura will be fantastic to watch. Both are very intellectual and have been lethal kicking out of hand so far in the tournament.
The midfield battle will be excellent as well given that both teams have played lock down defense but have found gaps against the opposition. Of course, they haven’t faced one another yet. Tanner Barnes and local boy Tua Laei are the centers for the USA and will have to have a high work rate to shut down the Japanese midfield.
Both forward packs are scrappy and tenacious, but the Japanese scrum has struggled slightly against Tonga and Chile but were able to tailor a game plan that minimized the damage a weak set piece can have on a match.
Notes: This match will be webcast live. Go to www.deseretnews.com ... in a game where players on any national team come from all over, the USA squad for Saturday will feature USA passport-holders in all 22 spots.