USA coach Mike Tolkin voiced his frustration at the Rugby World Cup draw that forced him to field a second-string side against South Africa on Wednesday.
With just four days between the game at the Olympic Stadium and their final pool game against Japan, potentially the most important game of the American’s campaign, Tolkin has made 12 changes to his side, leaving most of his first-choice players on the sidelines.
The Eagles were thrashed 64-0 by a full-strength Springbok team but Tolkin nevertheless said he believed the score was a sigh of progress.
The Eagles trailed by just 14 points at the break, but Tolkin insisted that it would have been a lot worse four years ago.
“I’m very frustarted, but we’re not alone,” said Tolkin, who was quick to highlight the progress made by tier-two nations.
“It is hard to take when you have to make a line up based on a few days rest and I am sure Rugby World Cup will look at this after the tournament.”
“I think World Rugby needs to continue investing in tier-two countries, as they have done.
“It’s money, when we leave this tournament our roster of 31, probably about 15 will have to go to work on Monday,” he added.
“I think moving forward, at this World Cup you don’t see any 80, 90, 100 points scores”
“We had a side out there with virtually no experience in a World Cup and they played against just about a full Springboks side and it’s happened on many occasions in this World Cup already.
“In four years’ time it will be really interesting to see what happens. It would have been interesting to see what a full (USA) side would have done against the Springboks.
“They aren’t superhuman and it’s important for our guys to see that. We are developing a belief the more we play the top teams.
“I think a fulltime professional environment for all the players is the first step, I think more exposure to tier one teams has been a benefit for us, within the last year we’ve played New Zealand, Australia, South Africa.
“As soon as we get all those guys into a professional environment and the infrastructure is in place and World Rugby continues to invest in tier two nations, we’ll continue to get a better and more even competition.
“In the first half I was so pleased with the way our guys played. They just poured their hearts out and I was really pleased with the effort. Once the Springboks got going it really wore our guys down quickly.”