This Sunday’s game should, by all rights, be THE game of the tournament. After all the current Olympic Gold Medallists are taking on the reigning Five Nations Champions. It’s been over 90 years since the United States won Olympic Gold and 16 years since the last Five Nations but let’s not let trivial matters like the passing of time and long dead tournaments get in the way of THE MATCH UP OF THE TOURNAMENT!
The SRU have been making inroads in the US trying to expand Scotland’s appeal to ex-pats and those with Scottish ancestry in a country that is slowly beginning to embrace rugby. The Eagles have improved immeasurably over the last decade but then so have other countries around them in the World Rankings.
4 November 2000 – Scotland 53 USA 6
Scotland’s first meeting with the USA came during the 2000 Autumn Tests. The result was overshadowed by off field events with New Zealand born back row Gordon Simpson being dropped from the test squad for disciplinary reasons. Although not named in the match day squad Simpson was seen drinking the night before the USA match and unceremoniously dumped. Simpson wouldn’t be recalled until a year later.
The USA squad was young and inexperienced and Scotland ran out easy winners.
Scotland tries: Leslie (2), Paterson, Putney, Townsend (2)
Scotland cons: Townsend (4)
Pens: Townsend (5)
Pens: Wells (2)
22 June 2002 – Scotland 65 USA 23
Scotland faced the USA during a tour of North America which also included a full international against Canada that Scotland narrowly lost.
The match against the USA was not without incident with Nathan Hines becoming the first Scottish male player in over a 120 years to receive a red card. Hines threw a punch towards the end of the first half knocking out an America player. Speaking to the Scotsman on his return from tour Hines said “I have never been given a red card before, and I’ve even been accused of not being aggressive enough by some coaches. This guy had been rucking all over my hands and arms, pretty violently, even though the ball was away, and I’d just had enough and reacted, which I know was wrong.”
Hines received a two match ban which seems tame by today’s standards.
Scotland tries: Craig, Henderson, Hines, Hodge 2, Kerr, Laney, Paterson 2, White
Scotland cons: Laney (6)
Scotland pen: Laney
USA tries: Keyter, Timoteo
USA cons: Wilfley (2)
Scotland pens: Wilfley (3)
20 October 2003 – Scotland 39 USA 15
Scotland met the USA in Pool B during the World Cup. The Pool also featured Japan. Spooky eh?
The USA had lost narrowly to Fiji in the previous game and were targeting a win against Scotland side that had struggled to beat Japan. Scotland ran out easy winners against a tough USA side but the match marked the end of Martin Leslie’s international career. The back-row forward received a 12 week ban having been cited for kneeing an American player in the head 67 minutes into the match. The ban was reduced the eight weeks on appeal but that was long enough to mean Leslie wouldn’t appear for Scotland again.
The Scotland players paid tribute to Leslie in the following game against France each turning their head as the camera panned along the line during the national anthems. Scotland were well beaten by the French but made it to the Quarter Finals where they were beaten by Australia.
Scotland tries: Danielli (2), Kerr, Townsend, Paterson
Scotland cons: Paterson (4)
Scotland pens: Paterson (2)
USA pens: Hercus (5)
24 June 2014 – Scotland 24 – 6 USA
Scotland faced the USA in Big Vern’s first match in charge. Cotter gave debuts to Blair Cowan, Gordon Reid and Alex Allan as well as a certain Finn Russell.
The game was played in blistering 40 degree heat. Not something Scotland will have to contend with in Leeds. The USA troubled Scotland early on Scotland were eventually able to put them away. You can find our match report here including Rory’s review of some excellent commentating:
Scotland tries: Visser, penalty try, Hogg
Scotland cons: Laidlaw (3)
Scotland pens: Laidlaw
USA pens: Wyles 2
If we can learn anything from Scotland’s history of facing off against the USA it’s that discipline has been a real issue. Sunday’s match promises to be a physical one and although Scotland kept discipline against Japan they will need to keep their heads. With two big matches coming up and the group wide open Scotland cannot afford to lose anyone to a lengthy ban.