Today marks the 35th anniversary of America's first international in the modern era.
Visiting Australia defeated the United States 24-12 on January 31, 1976, at Glover Stadium, in Anaheim, California's La Palma Park.
In a match described by contemporaries as surprisingly close, the original Eagles fell behind 16-6, before a pair of second-half penalty goals from Kip Oxman brought the contest to within 4 points. Tries by flanker Ray Pearse and wing John Ryan then sealed the contest.
According to the authoritative Rothman's Rugby Yearbook, 'the losers fought back right to the end' and 'were by no means outclassed'.
The United States of American Rugby Football Union (USARFU) had been founded in the summer 1975, unifying for the first time rugby on our continental country. Dennis Storer, whose UCLA teams had claimed the mythical national title in 1972 and again in 1975, then took charge of the first national XV assembled since the 1924 Summer Olympics.
The game concluded a 1975-76 Wallaby tour of the British Isles held to be an unsuccessful. Australia won 11 and drew 1 in 18 matches -- but lost of 3 of 4 internationals plus the penultimate Barbarians fixture. In California, Australia's use of some reserve tourists as well as 83-degree heat also influenced the visitors' showing.
All of the Eagles were of course international debutants. Like four of his teammates, Oxman's only international was Anaheim. In addition to USARFU's fledgling organization, back then rugby insisted on a strict amateur code. The Stanford fullback became a real estate executive in San Francisco.
Some 7,000 attended the match, according to Britain's reliable SFMS. The gaudy figure was another reason contemporary observers subsequently expected American rugby to rise rapidly.
Australia 24 United States 12 (halftime: Australia 13-6)
Penalties: Kip Oxman (4)
Kip Oxman; Del Chipman, Dave Stephenson, Greg Schneeweis, Steve Auerbach; Robbie Bordley (captain), Mike Swiderski; Eric Swanson, Fred Khasigian, Mickey Ording, Gary Brackett, Craig Sweeney, Skip Niebauer, Tom Klein, Tom Selfridge
Tries: Gary Pearse, Ray Price, John Ryan
Penalties: Jim Hindmarsh (4)
Jim Hindmarsh; John Ryan, Rex L'Estrange, Geoff Shaw (captain), Laurie Monaghan; Ken Wright, Rod Hauser; John Meadows, Chris Carberry, Ron Graham, Garrick Fay, Reginald Smith, Gary Pearse, Ray Price, Tony Shaw
Referee: AC Pontin (England)
Attendance: 7,000 (estimate)