The USA Eagles were little more than a speed bump in their record 104-14 loss at the hands of a high-powered All Blacks machine in Maryland on Saturday afternoon.
The US were desperately missing top players due to various club commitments in Europe. Thus, the team was made up exclusively of MLR players.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks went with a more experimental side. It didn’t matter. The All Blacks scored their fastest try ever and never let off the gas.
Speaking of the outcome, US coach Gary Gold said:
“Yeah, I am devastated by the result… I am going to try and find the positive in it, but it’s going to be clouded by the fact that there was a horrendous scoreline.”
The scoreline was far worse than the 74-6 result in Chicago in 2014. Hopefully, Saturday will provide a crucial experience to help the MLR raise the standard going forward.
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster seemed to share these sentiments.
He said: “I think the biggest challenge for the Eagles is when you’re trying to have access to their top team when it’s an outside the window game. It’s not easy for them to attract all their best players with some of them tied up in European clubs.
“Flipside of it is that you think about them as a group, the chance to play a big game in their home country, in an iconic stadium, it’s a pretty special occasion.
“I know there’ll be plenty made of the scoreline but in order for them to grow, these sort of games are probably really important for them.”
The silver lining is that it wasn’t too long ago that the USA were thrashing Japan. Japan has since gone on to fully embrace the sport by nurturing a high-quality professional league and are now banging on the door of the Rugby Championship.
Perhaps this is what Saturday can bring out of the MLR and ultimately, the overall game in the USA at large.
All Blacks’ Sean Wainui Haka dedication:
Full match highlights: