TLA was the promoting partner of this weekend’s Ireland v USA Rugby Match at Red Bull Arena. As the latest event within TLA’s global rugby property, the match sold well over 21,000 tickets and pushed toward an official sell out. This also marked the first time that World No. 4 Ireland will be on US soil since it’s historic victory against the New Zealand All Blacks as the main event of TLA’s “The Rugby Weekend” this past November. In addition to a major marketing and advertising campaign, TLA led a grassroots effort that resulted in over 100 promotional partnerships with bars, business organizations and government entities, so needless to say that the New York/New Jersey area was all-in for a great weekend of rugby.
USA Eagles 19-55 Ireland
Ireland ran in nine tries at the Red Bull Arena as Joe Schmidt’s side got their summer tour off to a satisfying start with a comprehensive 55-19 win over the USA Eagles in New Jersey.
Jacob Stockdale and James Ryan marked their Test debuts with tries in a youthful side where 10 of the starting team possessed 10 caps or less.
Keith Earls (2), Stockdale, Niall Scannell and Kieran Marmion were the first-half try scorers for the visitors, with Nick Civetta blocking down a Joey Carbey chip to touch down to get the Americans off the mark as they trailed 29-7 at the interval.
Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Ryan and Simon Zebo added their names to the scoresheet after the break and while the perfectionist Schmidt will be disappointed with aspects of the Eagles tries, it was a satisfactory start to the summer schedule.
It took Ireland just three minutes to hit the front in their first attack of the game.
Tiernan O’Halloran gathered a soft pass from Carbery and handed off the first challenge before slipping inside the defensive line to put the Munster man away in the left corner.
The inexperienced underdogs were showing signs of struggling at set-piece and the second Irish try came courtesy of a lineout.
Earls took a brilliant line and had the vision and composure to sling the ball to debutant Stockdale who was hugging the tramline to mark a special outingn for the Ulster back.
Garry Ringrose coolly converted and five minutes later the electric Earls added his second try, moments after he was foiled short of the line. The 29-year-old initiated the move with a pass to O’Halloran, though there appeared to be little danger when he gathered the ball infield in broken play.
However he spotted his opportunity and the fleet-footed full-back ghosted between two would-be tacklers and sucked in another defender before releasing Earls again, where a one-two with Kieran Marmion was enough to create the space for the score.
The Americans hit back after Carbery was charged down for the second time, this time right in front of the posts for second row Civetta to profit.
The pack too were keen to flex their muscles on the scoring stakes and the Irish response was swift, with Scannell flopping over at the tail of the rolling maul.
The final score of the opening period was another free-flowing Irish attack.
Marmion’s snipe from the base of the scrum took the Eagles backrow by surprise and put Earls into space. The scrum-half continued his run and when the Myross flyer was halted short of the line, he was at hand to gather and make it 29-7 at the break.
Jack Conan, another eye-catching performer from the first half, took just three minutes of the second half to claim Ireland’s sixth as the Irish scrum simply demolished their American counterparts from close range to power over.
While the gulf in class was evident, it was Groundhog Day for out-half Carbery.
The Leinster man was struggling somewhat from the tee and conceded a carbon copy of the Eagles’ first try after Corkman John Quill charged down his pass to give the home supporters at the 25,000 seater stadium something to cheer about.
When centre Ryan Matyas went over to reduce the deficit to 19-36, it looked like Schmidt’s side could be in a for a nervous finale, but order was restored when James Ryan scored less than 60 seconds into his Test debut.
Earls was again the creator and provider, feigning a pass to the left before popping to his right where the onrushing lock, with his first touch, gleefully gathered to race over.
Substitutes Luke McGrath and Simon Zebo wrapped up a comprehensive win and next it is on to Japan for Tests in Shizuoka and Tokyo.
US Eagles: B Cima; M Te’o, R Matyas, M Brache, M Iosefo; Aj MacGinty, N Augspurger (capt); B Tarr, P Malcolm, C Baumann; N Brakely, N Civetta; J Quill, D Tameilau, T Lamborn.
Replacements: P Ryan for Baumann 46 mins, J Hilternrand for Malcom 46 mins, M Jensen for Civetta 46 mins, A Duratolo for Tameilau 46 mins, S Davies for Iosefo 51 mins.
Ireland: T O’Halloran; K Earls, N Ringrose, L Marshall, J Stockdale; J Carbery, K Marmion; C Healy, N Scannell, J Ryan; Q Roux, D Toner; R Ruddock (capt), J Conan, J van der Flier.
Replacements: R Scannell for Marshall ht, S Zebo for Carbery 51 mins, D Kilcone for Healy 51 mins, D Heffernan for N Scannell 51 mins, A Porter for J Ryan 61; R Ryan for Roux 61 mins, D Leavy for van der Flier 69 mins.