As the Eagles prepare to take on Sonny Bill Williams and Bryan Habana, some developing the next generation of American talent say that in an Olympic year, the sport has reached a vital turning point
Imagine what its going to be like in 2020 if weve got some kids from the Bronx and Brooklyn, playing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In his spare office in New York City, on 9th and West 45th, trophies stacked with bags of rugby balls on the metal shelves behind him, Mark Griffin smiles and takes a sip of water. Griffin is the founder and CEO of Play Rugby USA, an inner-city nonprofit which is now joint-operator of Americas first community Olympic development programme (COPD) for rugby union. The sport returns to the Games in Rio this summer but Griffin is looking four years ahead.
In Las Vegas, meanwhile, the best mens teams in the world are looking only to the next three days, in which they will contest the USA Sevens.
The US Eagles do not have such superstars, though they do have Carlin Isles, Perry Baker and Zack Test, crossovers from football who have made themselves increasingly well known. In Vegas, they will be contenders for a knockout place, for a tournament win, for points on the HSBC World Series.