Eagles caps record to be broken in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Todd Clever is set to break the all-time appearance record for the USA Men's Eagles Saturday, June 26, when he co-captains the national team against Russia at Bonney Field.

The U.S. ends the 2016 Summer Series with the 7 p.m. PT kickoff in the California capital, with the match broadcast live on The Rugby Channel prior to a delayed re-air on CBS Sports Network Sunday at 6 p.m. PT.

In his 68th appearance for his country, Clever will line up with Tony Lamborn, who earned his first cap and scored a try last weekend in a defeat to Italy in San Jose, and Cam Dolan in the back row. A veteran of two Rugby World Cups and two Rugby World Cup Sevens in a near-15-year career with the Eagles, the flanker will be recognized for his accomplishment prior to kickoff Saturday.

"Todd's a warrior," Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell said. "He's an inspiration when he plays at his level. He's displayed exceptional maturity and mental strength to be a leader within the group, and both he and Blaine [Scully] work very well together as co-captains."

An injury keeps Greg Peterson out of the match-day roster, with James King making his second appearance in a USA jersey alongside Nate Brakeley behind the front row. Chris Baumann, James Hilterbrand, and Titi Lamositele retain their starting positions, as do half backs Nate Augspurger and AJ MacGinty.

The third and final change in the roster sees Mike Te'o start in the No. 14 jersey in place of Taku Ngwenya, who also sustained an injury at Avaya Stadium last weekend. Shalom Suniula partners Thretton Palamo in the midfield, while Will Holder and Scully round out the back line. Following Clever's captaincy nod in his hometown of San Jose, Scully will wear the proverbial 'C' in his native Sacramento.

"One of the difficulties you have with the national team is that continuity is always a challenge," Mitchell said. "We've planned to have a lot of continuity in terms of the playing group because that gives you the best chance to be coherent."

Harry Higgins and Stephen Tomasin also return to the reserves in what could be their first international caps, and Luke Hume has been named as a possible backs replacement. Earning his first call up to the national team is Langilangi Haupeakui of PRO Rugby's Sacramento Express, who impressed the coaching staff in training this week as a day-camper. A No. 8 for his professional side, the San Mateo native provides cover for the back row.

The Eagles were within a point of a result against Tier One Italy with fewer than 10 minutes remaining on the game clock, watching the upset chance slip away with a few penalties in the final moments. Never trailing by more than eight points in the match, the team gave itself a chance to win, a detail stressed by the coaching staff in the build-up week.

In six matches played against Russia since 2004, with just one on U.S. soil, the Eagles have won all six meetings, including the matchup at Russia's first World Cup in 2011. The Bears suffered a 46-21 loss to Canada last weekend in its first match of the June international window.

"The important thing is not to focus on outcome or allow outcome to be your motivation," Mitchell said. "Certainly we want to improve our performance but this week has been very much focused on improving the components within the plan. We were pleased with the way they stayed on plan against Italy.

"We also need to get a reward for the work that's been put in this assembly, which allows us to continue to build the belief in what we have been doing. We're creating a culture the players like coming back into, and likewise for some of the players that haven't been available to date. The main thing is that it's a learning culture."

The Eagles' third match at Bonney Field in as many years kicks off at 7 p.m. PT, with the live broadcast available to viewers worldwide on The Rugby Channel. Tickets start as low as $23, and fans missing the broadcast can tune in to Sunday's re-air on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. PT.

Men's Eagles | v. Russia
1. Titi Lamositele
2. James Hilterbrand
3. Chris Baumann
4. James King
5. Nate Brakeley
6. Todd Clever
7. Tony Lamborn
8. Cam Dolan
9. Nate Augspurger
10. AJ MacGinty
11. Blaine Scully (C)
12. Shalom Suniula
13. Thretton Palamo
14. Mike Te'o
15. Will Holder

Men's Eagles | Reserves
16. Joe Taufete'e
17. Ben Tarr
18. Angus MacLellan
19. Harry Higgins
20. Langilangi Haupeakui
21. Stephen Tomasin
22. Chad London
23. Luke Hume

Russia | v. USA
1. Alexey Volkov
2. Evgeny Matveev
3. Evgeny Pronenko
4. Andrei Garbuzov
5. Denis Antonov
6. Viktor Gresev
7. Pavel Butenko
8. Anton Rudoi
9. Rushan Iagudin
10. Yury Kushnarev
11. Vasily Artemyev (C)
12. Dmitry Gerasimov
13. Kirill Golosnitskiy
14. Denis Simplikevich
15. Ramil Gaisin

Russia | Reserves
16. Nazir Gasanov
17. Azamat Bitiev
18. Vladimir Podrezov
19. Evgeny Elgin
20. Danila Chegodaev
21. Alexey Shcherban
22. Evgeny Kolomiitsev
23. Anton Ryabov