Friday some Americans saw action in pro leagues around Europe.
Mike MacDonald and Robbie Shaw started at loosehead prop and scrumhalf, respectively, for Leeds in a very important RFU Championship match again Yorkshire rivals Rotherham.
Both players played a major role in Leeds winning 25-19.
The victory put Leeds at 8-4, just three points behind Rotherham (7-4-1) for 5th and a step closer to a playoff spot.
Meanwhile in France, it was back to Top 14 action for clubs. Takudzwa Ngwenya started at wing for Biarritz, but his club didn’t get a lot of space as they went down 28-9 to Racing Metro.
Scott Lavalla got some time off the bench for Stade Francais and the Paris club defeated Perpignan 35-16.
In the English Premiership, Chris Biller did not make the 22 two days after flying out to join Bath. Bath lost 16-7 to Worcester. Still, Director of Rugby Sir Ian McGeechan is keen to have Biller with the team.
"We have been unlucky with the injuries we've sustained, but to have someone of Chris' ability available to us is great,” McGeechan said. “He's a good strong player, who has played to a very high level, and we're looking forward to him adding to the experience we have within the squad."
Hookers Lee Mears, Pieter Dixon and Ross Batty are all injured for Bath.
It was a typically busy weekend for USA players in the RFU Championship, England's 2nd tier professional rugby competition.
Shawn Pittman started at tighthead prop for London Welsh in their difficult 18-16 win over London Scottish. (Robbie Shaw did not play.)
And Mike MacDonald came off the bench to spark Leeds to a 20-15 win over Esher. MacDonald played tighthead, rather than his usual loosehead, but was a useful injection of intensity for Leeds in the victory.
Tim Usasz was not used by Nottingham in their win over Plymouth.
Andrew Suniula started at inside center for the Cornish Pirates and scored his first try for the team, but the Pirates fell 37-33 to Bristol.
Also this weekend: Chris Wyles and Hayden Smith started for Saracens, and Taku Ngwenya started and scored a try for Biarritz in the 15-10 Biarritz victory in European Cup action.
Ngwenya scored his 14th try in European rugby.
"It's nice to get a victory and it's been a long time since we have won," said Ngwenya. "We have been playing well but have made costly errors like at the Ospreys. So it was good to get the win especially on home turf and get the Heineken Cup back on track. We have to target a bonus point against Benetton Treviso (the sides meet in the back-to-back games in December) because Saracens did that so we have to match it.
"We have to get as many points as we can before we play Saracens because they are the team to beat right now. It's such a tough group and it's important we pick up as many points as we can, we need to be getting bonus points both home and away."
Samu Manoa came on in the second half for Northampton, but the Saints lost 28-23 to the Scarlets.
Seta Tuilevuka was not used by Montpellier in their 16-13 loss to Bath.
In the Amlin Challenge Cup, Scott LaValla came on in the second half at no. 8 for Stade Francais in their 49-3 win over Bucharest.
Kevin Swiryn started at wing for Agen as they lost 29-8 to Brive.
In Japan, Todd Clever was not used in Suntory's 47-24 win over Yamaha.
Takudzwa Ngwenya scored a try with about 15 minutes left to ensure Biarritz would win their Heineken Cup match against Saracens.
With the score still tight at 8-3, USA wing Ngwenya broke free for a crucial score that put Biarritz 15-3 up against the English club, which started USA players Chris Wyles at fullback and Hayden Smith at lock.
Saracens scored late to rescue a bonus point. Saracens is still in first place in Pool 5 in the Heineken Cup, but just barely in a tight race between them, Biarritz, and the Ospreys, who shockingly only tied Treviso.
Kevin Swiryn is in the starting lineup for Agen’s Amlin Challenge Cup match against Brive on Sunday, which is good news for the USA wing.
Swiryn lost his USA starting job to James Paterson during the World Cup, right at the time he felt he was returning to form.
Back at Agen in the South of France, Swiryn has had some work to do to break back into the starting lineup. Last week he came on as a sub and scored a try. A La Vila player tried to clear the ball from his tryline. The ball bounced downfield and into the arms of an Agen player. Swiryn saw space on the outside and came racing in, called for the ball, sidestepped a defender, and was in. Good, heads up play from Swiryn, and now he’s in the starting 15.
“It was nice to get on the field and then score as well,” Swiryn told RUGBYMag.com. “It's been tough to get time since returning because our team did well while I was gone, and continues to. Therefore, squeezing into the mix is tough while everyone is playing so well.”
But Swiryn, who struggled personally through a difficult spring, is pleased to be back with a team that perhaps fits his way of playing better.
“It's great to be back in France and just to be in one place for awhile,” he said. “I really enjoy playing for my coach here and with understanding the language better I'm still learning stuff every session. Our backs coach is a lot like [St. Mary’s Head Coach] Tim O'Brien; he does a lot of skill work and prepares you to play by learning how to react to situations rather than have things set in stone. He loves using the word, ‘adaptation.’”
Asked if he suffered from a lack of confidence through 2011, Swiryn said he didn’t. He felt his play improved against Canada and against Japan, where he scored both of the USA’s tries, was one of his best games as an Eagle.
“I don't feel I ever lost [confidence], and therefore I still have it,” he said.
But changing between the Agen way and the USA way was difficult – just as it was difficult for Seta Tuilevuka to switch between the Montpellier way and the USA way.
“It's more about getting used to changing all the time,” said Swiryn. “How I play rugby here in France and how I had to play on the USA team are two completely different styles. Whether one is better than the other isn't the point, it's that they're opposite and when you change so drastically it's difficult to get comfortable.”
Agen (in red) highlights v. La Vila. See 4:00 for Swiryn's try.
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