2024 America Series: USA vs Romania

USA Vs. Romania Rugby Preview: Will 2024 Be A Step Forward For The USA?

USA Vs. Romania Rugby Preview: Will 2024 Be A Step Forward For The USA?

Scott Lawrence will face Romania in his first match since shedding the interim coach tag in January, part of an important summer ahead for the Eagles.

Jul 5, 2024 by Briar Napier
USA Vs. Romania Rugby Preview: Will 2024 Be A Step Forward For The USA?

The United States is celebrating its 248th birthday this week, and its men’s national rugby team can give the country a holiday present with a good result Friday night in Chicago.

After closing the 2023 season with silverware in Spain, the rejuvenated Eagles will begin the grind toward qualifying for the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia with a pair of mid-year tests this month, the first of which will come against 2023 Rugby World Cup side Romania on American soil.

With a new coach and fresh events on the calendar, the United States has the tools in its arsenal to get back to being one of the top national teams in the Americas. The journey toward getting back to that point starts now.

Here’s a look at the United States’ match Friday against Romania, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern and will be streamed live on FloRugby:

USA Vs. Romania Rugby: We Meet Again

Eagles coach Scott Lawrence, who officially became the head coach and general manager of the men’s national team in January of this year after wearing the interim tag in 2023, will face the first side he ever defeated as USA’s coach. 

Lawrence, formerly the head coach of Major League Rugby’s Rugby ATL (now Rugby FC Los Angeles), directed his team to a 31-17 victory over Romania in Bucharest last August as part of the Stejarii’s preparation for the Rugby World Cup held later in the year, with the Eagles holding Romania scoreless until the final 20 minutes of the match, as four players scored tries. 

Eleven months later, Romania will face the Eagles on a holiday week on their home turf in suburban Chicago, while the expectation for Lawrence’s first match in charge as outright head coach will remain the same - get the job done against Romania and build a strong structure to utilize for the end-of-year tests. 

In 2023, even without a Rugby World Cup to prepare for, as the Americans failed to qualify for the first time since 1995, beating Romania was the spark for a strong close to the calendar year. 

Last November, the Eagles traveled to Spain and dominated the La Vila International Rugby Cup, emerging victorious in a four-team tournament featuring teams that did not qualify for the Rugby World Cup. The surge included routs over both Brazil and the hosts. 

This time around in 2024, the Eagles’ test against Romania also will be the appetizer before some sizzling fixtures later in the year. 

Scotland will visit Audi Field in Washington, D.C., next weekend, before the Eagles get to work ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup, where matches at home against Canada and away in Japan are on the docket in Pool B.

Homegrown Talent For USA Rugby, Romania

Unsurprisingly, it’s a MLR-heavy squad that’s going to face Romania, with plenty of faces familiar to Eagles fans in the mix. 

Of the 23-strong squad that will be wearing the USA kit in Chicago this weekend, 20 play in the MLR, with JP Smith, a South Africa-born scrumhalf who has impressed this season for the Seattle Seawolves, being one of two Eagles slated to debut against Romania. 

Brive (France) lock Renger van Eerten - born in the Netherlands but able to qualify for the USA Eagles through his American mother - will be the other man scheduled to get his first senior international cap with the United States. The towering 6-foot-8, 24-year-old lock was a frequent piece in a Brive squad that currently plays in the second-tier Rugby Pro D2 and made the promotion playoffs this past season. 

Those two expected debuts are partly possible due to the fact that lock Cam Dolan and scrumhalf Ruben de Haas, two stalwarts of the Eagles over the past few years as they carry nearly 100 caps between them, will not play against Romania due to injury after being among those who were called up to Lawrence’s 30-man camp squad in advance of the Eagles’ mid-year tests. 

But, even with that youth in the starting XV, other veterans, such as van Eerten’s lock partner Greg Peterson (42 caps), fly-half and Bristol Bears standout AJ MacGinty (35) and former MLR Back of the Year Nate Augspurger (41) will be there in support to try and help push the Eagles past their first opponent of 2024.

Also, Anthem Rugby Carolina prop Jake Turnbull - part of the World Rugby- and USA Rugby-backed development-focused MLR side focused on training players for the United States' national team - likely will be the first man to be an Eagle as an Anthem player, as the five times-capped player will be part of a front three, which also includes the Chicago Hounds’ Dylan Fawsitt and the Utah Warriors’ Paul Mullen.

The Summer Stretch For USA Rugby

After a year of recovering from the shock and disappointment of missing a Rugby World Cup for only the second time in the tournament’s history, consider 2024 (especially with Lawrence now screwed in as coach after letting go of the interim tag) to be the Eagles’ first moves toward building a stable foundation again and getting ready for the next Rugby World Cup qualification cycle. 

The next two weekends - particularly in regard to Scotland, which the United States defeated in 2018 for its first Tier 1 victory in the modern era - may tell a lot about the directions Lawrence will go and the output on the pitch that is shown under him.

The results of the Romania and Scotland tests won’t matter in terms of immediately battling for silverware or qualifying for a competition, but they will be vitally important fixtures for Lawrence to tinker with what he’s got and throw out schemes and styles ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup later in the year. 

Speaking of the Pacific Nations Cup, it’s a tournament the United States has never won (in four opportunities), finishing a best of second in 2014. 

Back in the fold in the PNC for 2024, as it debuts a fresh format (a six-team tournament with two pools, with the top two in each pool moving on to a two-week finals series for the title), making noise in August and September against a powerful field of Japan, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Canada could be an indication of a step forward for the Eagles right away under Lawrence.

It’s a big summer for the USA Eagles, and the points to prove start this weekend in Chicago.

How To Watch USA Rugby Vs. Romania 

The USA Rugby vs. Romania game is streaming on FloRugby and the FloSports app. Match replays, highlights and breaking news will be available on both platforms. 

USA Vs. Scotland Rugby In July 2024

The United States will host Scotland at Audi Field in Washington D.C. on July 12 at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. That match will be streaming on FloRugby and the FloSports app. 

USA Rugby Schedule 2024

  • July 5: USA vs. Romania, SeatGeek Stadium, 8 p.m. EDT
  • July 12: USA vs. Scotland, Audi Field, 5:30 p.m. EDT
  • November 15: USA vs. Tonga, 6 p.m. EST

Romania Ruby Schedule 2024

  • July 5: USA vs. Romania, SeatGeek Stadium, Chicago, 7 p.m. EDT
  • July 12: Canada vs. Romania, TD Place, Ottawa 7 p.m. EDT

USA Rugby World Ranking

The Eagles are ranked No. 17 at World Rugby with 67.94 points. Romania is No. 20 with 61.66 points. 

World Rugby Rankings On July 1

Here are the latest rankings from World Rugby: 

  1. South Africa, 94.54
  2. Ireland, 90.69
  3. New Zealand, 89.80
  4. France, 87.92
  5. England, 85.75
  6. Scotland, 82.82
  7. Argentina, 80.68
  8. Italy, 79.41
  9. Australia, 77.48
  10. Wales, 77.26

Here are the full rankings.

How To Watch Rugby Matches In the United States On FloRugby

The URC will stream all its matches on FloRugby and the FloSports app in the United States. FloRugby and FloSports also are the U.S. home to: 

FloRugby also is home to match archives and match replays. 

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