update Eagle veterans Albert Tuipulotu and Matt Wyatt bolster the Hawks starting lineup for tomorrow’s North American 4 match against unbeaten Canada West, while Army’s Andrew Locke steps into the number 10 jersey for the Falcons against Canada East.
Both of the Columbus, Ohio, games are must-wins if the American sides hope to reach next Saturday’s finals. A Wests win over the Hawks will clinch one of two championship berths for the competition frontrunners.
Following three May matches in Vancouver, the Wests begin with 11 points, while the Easts and the Falcons are tied at 7 points, and the Hawks trail with 5.
In tomorrow’s evening fixtures, both of the American pivots, Locke and Damien Fatongia of Moraga, California’s St. Mary’s, come from the collegiate ranks. Each is scheduled to tour with the 2006 All-Americans next month.
The American lineups also include a handful of Super League players making their tournament debuts. In addition to Philadelphia-Whitemarsh’s Wyatt, Hawks first-timers include lock Adam Russell (New York Athletic Club), loosies Ben Sadgrove (Old Blue) and Henry Bloomfield (Belmont Shore), and wing Ed Stockunas (Washington). The Falcon newcomers are lock Latu Puloka (OMBAC), reserve hooker Mark Griffin (Old Blues), and reserve center/wing Scott Jones (Chicago Lions).
Neither captain has been designated, nor have the referees been announced.
update In a related matter, the International Rugby Board has released a detailed statistical analysis of the NA4's opening matches. Among the findings:
Where certain teams use forwards more as suppliers of the ball for onward transmission by the backs, other teams involve the forwards themselves in the distribution process. Canada East appears to be the most noticeable proponents of the latter process with US Hawks favouring the former. ... Canada East’s forwards, for example, were 3 times more likely to pass the ball the US Hawks forwards.
The file isn't yet available online; email if you'd like a copy: kurt AT gainline DOT us
Jeff Hullinger (Brigham Young Univ.); Brian Barnard (Golden Gate), Vaha Esikia (Las Vegas), Alipate Tuilevuka (Brigham Young Univ.), Jason Pye (Utah); Andrew Locke (Army), Chad Erskine (OMBAC); Sean Kim (Charlotte), Pat Bell (Life University), John Vitale (Chicago Lions), Brian Schoener (Old Puget Sound Beach), Latu Puloka (
Army OMBAC), Ron Rosser (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo), Jarvis Albury (Arkansas State), Mark Aylor (Austin)
Reserves: Mark Griffin (Old Blue), Connor Mallloy (Scioto Valley), Hayden Mexted (St. Louis Bombers), Matt Rader (New York Athletic Club), Doug Rowe (Old Blue), Scott Jones (Chicago Lions), James Finau (Hayward Griffins)
Andrew Blair (Golden Gate); Jeremy Nash (Chicago Lions), Nathan Rogers (Life University), Albert Tuipolutu (Parma), Ed Stockunas (Washington); Damien Fatongia (St. Mary’s), Tyson Meek (Denver Barbarians); Brian Olmes (Potomac Athletic Club), Matt Wyatt (Philadelphia-Whitemarsh), Kurt Nienburg (Scioto Valley), Louis Stanfill (Cal), Adam Russell (New York Athletic Club), Ben Sadgrove (Old Blue), Justin Stencel (Charlotte), Henry Bloomfield (Belmont Shore)
Reserves: Chris Moreno (Grand Rapids), Blake Burdette (Utah), Matt Potchad (not available), Scott Lawrence (Life University), David Williams (Chicago Lions), Mike Graham (Philadelphia-Whitemarsh), Salesi Sika (Brigham Young Univ.)