Eagles Abroad - May 1, 2012
On the surface it may have seemed like a quiet week for Americans overseas. Many of the players had the weekend off as league games gave way to European Cup action. Still, for those that were in action, it was an eventful week.
To start out with, Tim Usasz has played his last game as a player. Usasz originally signed with National League 1 outfit Barking as a player/coach with responsibilities for the backs. However, after their coach suddenly left, Usasz took over the reigns of the whole team. This meant giving up his playing duties. Unfortunately, Barking struggled for most of the season due to a variety of factors and were relegated prior to last weekend’s match. So Usasz took the opportunity to put on the boots once more and played in his team’s 56-7 loss to Blaydon. Now that the season, and his playing career, is over, Usasz will have a full off-season to get the team ready for next year.
For Taku Ngwenya and Biarritz, it was all about European Cup action this last weekend. Biarritz’s struggles this season have been well documented, and with the team safely above the relegation zone, the team looked to their Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Brive as a chance to play for some silverware. Overall, it ended up being a good day as Ngwenya started and played 80 minutes as Biarritz beat Brive 19-0. They will play Toulon in the final.
Scott LaValla and Stade Francais were hoping to join Biarritz in the Amlin Challenge Cup final but ended up losing to Toulon 32-29 in a close match. LaValla wasn’t in the lineup for Stade.
In the Heineken Cup, Callum Black was not in the lineup for Ulster as they beat Edinburgh 22-19 to advance to the final where they will play Leinster.
Rounding out those that played this last week is Inaki Basauri, who started, played 80 minutes, and scored a try for Perigueux as they lost to Tarbes 32-26. Unfortunately for Perigueux, they have been relegated.
JJ Gagiano and the Golden Lions didn’t play this last weekend but still managed to make the Vodacom Cup quarterfinals. They will play Western Province next week but Gagiano is unlikely to play because he is getting married.
The rest of the Americans had the weekend off, but they face a big slate of matches this upcoming weekend:
Paul Emerick and London Wasps face a huge match against Newcastle. If the Wasps win, they will avoid relegation. If they lose, they could potentially drop down.
Chris Wyles and Saracens host Exeter in a match that could help determine if Saracens host a semi-final match.
Samu Manoa, Chris Biller, and Northampton host Worcester. If the Saints win, they claim the last playoff spot.
Shawn Pittman and London Welsh play Bedford, while Andrew Suniula and the Cornish Pirates play Bristol in the RFU Championship semi-finals. The semi-finals are a home and away fixture.
Tommy Seymour and Glasgow play Connacht with a playoff position on the line. The same goes for Hanno Dirksen and the Ospreys who travel to Aironi.
Seta Tuilevuka and Montpellier will play Ngwenya and Biarritz.