With the November internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, USA.
The USA found the going tough during the November internationals and they finished a disappointing three-match schedule without registering a single victory.
There was a degree of optimism in the Eagles camp as they headed into their November campaign. This came after they impressed during the Americas Rugby Championship, where they finished second to an Argentine XV, and thanks to impressive performances in a narrow loss to Italy and one-sided win against Russia during the June internationals.
Eagles head coach John Mitchell must have been quietly confident ahead of his side’s fixtures against the Maori All Blacks in Chicago, Romania in Bucharest and Tonga in Spain.
Veteran back-row Todd Clever and utility back Blaine Scully continue to serve as co-captains of the team and the addition of USA Sevens Olympians like Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, Madison Hughes, Martin Iosefo, and Folau Niua as well as Western Force utility back Marcel Brache brought an air of excitement and expectation to the Eagles ranks.
But things did not go according to plan and their campaign kicked off on a disastrous note when they conceded eight tries in a 54-7 defeat to the Maori All Blacks.
Their confidence seemed to take a knock after that poor performance and they were on the wrong end of a 23-10 result in their next match against Romania before showing some improvement in a narrow 20-17 loss to Tonga in their final fixture.
There were some encouraging signs in that loss to Tonga and they showed great resilience, after trailing 14-3 early on in that Test, but after his first year in charge, Mitchell will be disappointed with the team’s overall performance as it means they finish the year with just three wins, six defeats and a draw from their 10 matches played.
Seven players made their debuts on this tour and Mitchell will be hoping to see some progress in their 2017 Americas Rugby Championship campaign which starts early in February at home against Uruguay.
The Eagles finish 2016 in 17th place in World Rugby’s rankings, a position which they were in at the start of November, so Mitchell will be hoping for much needed improvement in 2017 in order to get the supposed sleeping giant to start waking up.