USA Rugby: Why Scotland can expect a tougher test in Washington DC than they got against Canada

Next tour opponents are ranked four places higher

Saturday’s win over Canada in Ottawa may have felt a little too easy for Scotland but it is unlikely that Gregor Townsend will allow complacency

to creep in.

The last time he took Scotland to North America they followed up a resounding opening victory over the Canadians with a shock defeat against the USA - and it’s the Eagles up next for Townsend’s team.

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The head coach and his squad are now in Washington DC and will take on the United States at the city’s Audi Field on Friday. The 20,000-capacity stadium - which will host Celtic later this month in a pre-season friendly against DC United - was opened in 2018, the same year the USA pulled off their shock win over the Scots.

Nic Civetta, the US Eagles lock, right, and full back Will Hooley, left, are ecstatic at the final whistle, as they celebrate a famous victory over Scotland by 30-29 at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on 16 June 2018.  (Photo by David Gibson/Photosport/Shutterstock)Nic Civetta, the US Eagles lock, right, and full back Will Hooley, left, are ecstatic at the final whistle, as they celebrate a famous victory over Scotland by 30-29 at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on 16 June 2018.  (Photo by David Gibson/Photosport/Shutterstock)
Nic Civetta, the US Eagles lock, right, and full back Will Hooley, left, are ecstatic at the final whistle, as they celebrate a famous victory over Scotland by 30-29 at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on 16 June 2018. (Photo by David Gibson/Photosport/Shutterstock)

That game was played in Houston and the hosts won 30-29 against a Scotland team that included Stuart Hogg, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, George Horne, Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Zander and Matt Fagerson. It was the USA’s first victory over Tier 1 Nation since they beat France at the 1924 Olympics

Hastings, Horne and Matt Fagerson are all part of this year’s tour squad and are likely to feature on Friday as Townsend rings the changes. The coach fielded 10 new caps in the 73-12 win over Canada but is expected to select a more experienced side for the second game of the four-Test tour.

USA are expected to provide a sterner test but, like Canada, they failed to qualify for last year’s Rugby World Cup. It was the first time since 1995 that they had missed out and brought to an end a run of six consecutive qualifications. It was a devastating blow to rugby in a country which has invested heavily in the sport and which will host the men's Rugby World Cup in 2031, and the women's tournament in 2033.

The men’s national team is currently ranked 18th in the world - four places above Canada - and had three bites at qualifying for last year’s tournament in France. The first came in October 2021 when they finished second best to Uruguay over two matches. They then saw a first leg away lead over Chile overturned in the return leg in Colorado. There was one final chance in a repechage event but they could only draw 19-19 with Portugal in the last game and it was the latter who qualified.

Since then the USA have lost to Georgia and beaten Toulouse, Brazil and Spain. They were also in action last week but lost 22-20 to Romania in Chicago in what was their first home Test since 2022.

Head coach Scott Lawrence selected a side drawn mainly but not exclusively from Major League Rugby. He awarded a first cap to Renger van Eerten, the Dutch-born second-row who plays for Brive in the French second tier. And the long serving Bristol Bears fly-half AJ MacGinty continues to pull the strings for them at 10.

Old Glory, the Washington-based club that the SRU part owns, provided two players against Romania. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, an Australian-born back-rower, and Tommaso Boni, a former Italy international centre, both started in Chicago. Boni won 11 caps for the Azzurri but switched allegiance and made his debut for the US last year, qualifying through his American-born grandfather.

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