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Chicago’s All Black encounter didn’t improve US Rugby despite large amount of interest

The trip to Chicago was a success by the numbers but not exactly in the quality of rugby played.

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Despite the blowout, nothing can really be drawn from the result other than two players have been sent home from the tour due to injury from an All Blacks standpoint.

Cory Jane has a hamstring injury and will be out for a while, and Nathan Harris has also been sent home from the tour.

The whole point of the USA Eagles/All Blacks match in Chicago was to build rugby interest and its status in America.

The result has done nothing to achieve either of those objectives.

The scoreline was such a blowout in the end, the average American viewer who tuned in on Saturday afternoon would have walked away thinking that their team were just bad, and no amount of attention on rugby (a usually largely un followed sport in the US) by the American media over the period of a week will be able to help alter that reflection.

Though it was probably never going to be a possibility, a slightly more even match in terms of the score would have seriously helped USA Rugby.

The 74-6 pounding was probably more than most were expecting.

There is no doubting that the USA is a market that the International Rugby Board need to target, but how it does this isn’t an easier question to answer even after this historic All Blacks test match at Soldier Field in front of 62,000 people.

Some media commentators have today discussed how they enjoyed the game, but in the next sentence aired the views of the general rugby public in saying that despite the sell out crowd and success of the actual event, it has in no way improved the standing of US Rugby going forward.

Largely again due to the result.

Match wise, the USA Eagles looked decent with the ball in hand, but physically and set play wise it just wasn’t a contest.

The scrums were dreadful, and that will be something the Eagles will need to seriously improve on come RWC time next year in the UK.

Hopefully a match between the All Blacks and USA can take place on an annual basis, perhaps alternate games between New Zealand and America. The only thing that can improve USA rugby is the performance of their national team, and that starts with the performances on the field.

Matches against top tier nations like the All Blacks will only help that.

From an All Black perspective the biggest talking point from the US game has been the injuries. It was hard to gauge how both Daniel Carter and Sonny Bill Williams went on their much talked about returns, and hopefully the All Black selectors consider giving Carter the starting 10 role in London to further evaluate.

Sonny Bill Williams pulled up during the match on Saturday with a slight injury, but no talk of it being too serious has made the rounds as yet.

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