For the second time in as many days, a national team from the United States met an English side in international competition. At stake Sunday was the right to advance to next week’s Cup Final, and unlike Saturday’s World Cup Soccer match, the first game of a Churchill Cup International Rugby Tournament doubleheader at Glendale’s Infinity Park, featuring the USA Eagles and the England Saxons, did not end in a draw.
The Saxons started the game strong, averaging a point per minute during the game’s first thirteen minutes. The game settled down as the half continued, and the Eagles were able to keep the score close by controlling possession and denying the Saxons scoring opportunities. Despite dominating possession, the Eagles only managed six points on two successful Volney Rouse penalty conversions, and the Saxons held an 18-6 lead at the break.
|2010 Churchill Cup - Pools|
|Saturday June 5 Infinity Park|
|Pool B||United States||39|
|Wednesday June 9 Infinity Park|
|Pool A||England Saxons||49|
|Sunday June 13 Infinity Park|
|Pool A||England Saxons||32|
|2010 Churchill Cup - Finals|
|Saturday, June 19|
|Red Bull Arena Harrison, NJ|
In the second half, the United States continued to maintain possession and closed to within nine points on a third Rouse penalty kick with 35 minutes remaining, but back-to-back tries by England’s Tom Varndell and Duncan Bell extended the Saxon’s lead to 32-9. The Eagles threatened late, but solid Saxon’s tackling shutdown several Eagle penetrations, and the game ended with the Saxons leading by a score of 32-9.
England hopes to claim its fifth Churchill Cup Trophy when they face Canada in the championship match when the Churchill Cup Finals get underway at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey next week. The Canadians earned a berth in the Cup Final by shocking the French with a 33-27 win in the second game at Infinity Park Sunday (see story).
The United States will meet France in the Plate Final (third place). The Eagles have already improved on last year’s performance with their 39-22 opening round win over Russia last Saturday (see story).
In the 2009 Churchill Cup, the United States lost both games of the pool stage, the first to Argentina (see story) and the second to England (see story) before defeating Georgia in the Bowl Final (see story).
About Churchill Cup
The Churchill Cup is named for British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Established in 2003, the alliance between the English Rugby Football Union (RFU), Rugby Canada, and USA Rugby was created to help develop the sport in North America following a successful tour of the continent by the English National Team in 2001.
The Churchill Cup has traditionally been a traveling tournament with matches held in multiple cities, but the loss of a major sponsor, Barclays, prompted the Alliance to entertain the idea of a consolidating the tournament to one city. In 2009, the Alliance selected Denver since the city is considered an enthusiastic sports town with a growing appetite for rugby.
USA Rugby’s CEO & President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville is hopeful that one day Denver will become the tournament’s permanent home.