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Kruger Named to United States Rugby World Cup Team

September 1, 2015

KUTZTOWN, Pa. -  Niku Kruger '15 has been named to the 31-man team representing the United States in the Rugby World Cup 2015 England.  Kruger, a biology/pre-med major from Pretoria South Africa, graduated from KU in May and led the Golden Bears to second place in the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships later that month. 

Captain Chris Wyles will lead 20 World Cup debutants in Pool B matches against Japan, Samoa, Scotland, and South Africa at Kingsholm, Brighton Community Stadium, Elland Road, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, respectively. While more than two million tickets have been sold to the world's largest celebration of rugby, tickets are still available through the Rugby World Cup website.

The team selected for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean is the same as the squad chosen for the three pre-World Cup matches, which included a third-consecutive defeat of Canada. Additionally, 13 players have professional contracts overseas.

"In terms of Rugby World Cup experience, yes, this is a relatively inexperienced group," Tolkin said. "However, while the Rugby World Cup is a whole different kettle of fish, many of these players do have a fair bit of international play under their belts since 2011."

Wyles led the U.S. in scoring at the 2011 event in New Zealand with 18 points, including all of the team's points in a 27-10 loss to Italy. Along with their captain, Mike Petri, Mate Moeakiola, Taku Ngwenya, and Louis Stanfill will appear in their third World Cups.

Among those making their debuts is Toulon's Samu Manoa, who earned his first international cap in November 2010. His then-new contract with Northampton Saints of the Aviva Premiership caused him to miss Rugby World Cup 2011.

Though Manoa has only appeared for the U.S. once so far in 2015, many of the players will have played 10 matches against international competition by Rugby World Cup kickoff. Chris Baumann, Zach Fenoglio, Seamus Kelly, Olive Kilifi, Niku Kruger, Al McFarland, AJ MacGinty, John Quill, Stanfill, Shalom Suniula, and Phil Thiel gained continuity during a three-match tour of South America as the USA Rugby Selects, and 29 members of the squad that defeated Japan and Canada in the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup will travel to England.

"It's good that we're operating from a base where those domestic guys went to Argentina and Uruguay and did well, got game time, then were joined by some of the professionals who added a bit more depth and professionalism to the squad," Tolkin said. "Samu is just another layer there.

"The guys feel confident playing without him, but he brings a great deal of impact to the side. He's a natural leader; he's a great ballplayer. Samu's been waiting to play in the World Cup for four years, so I know he's really thrilled at the prospect."

The Eagles have hosted three of their Pool B opponents - JapanScotland, and Samoa - in the United States in 2014 and 2015. The team will get a second chance at a victory against Samoa Sept. 20 in the nations' opening Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.

Each of the U.S.'s four pool matches will be broadcast live on Universal Sports, while all 48 matches of Rugby World Cup 2015 will be available on a pay-per-view basis.

Men's Eagles | Rugby World Cup 2015 
Danny Barrett - Men's Eagles Sevens 
Chris Baumann - Santa Monica RC 
Cameron Dolan - Cardiff Blues (Wales) 
Andrew Durutalo - Men's Eagles Sevens 
Zach Fenoglio - Glendale Raptors RFC 
Eric Fry - Newcastle Falcons (England) 
Seamus Kelly - San Francisco Golden Gate RFC 
Olive Kilifi - Seattle Saracens RC 
Niku Kruger - Glendale Raptors RFC (Kutztown University)
Titi Lamositele - Saracens FC (England) 
Scott LaValla - Stade Francais CASG (France) 
AJ MacGinty - Life Rugby 
Samu Manoa - RC Toulonnais (France) 
Al McFarland - NYAC 
Matekitonga Moeakiola - Castenet (France) 
Takudzwa Ngwenya - Biarritz Olympique (France) 
Folau Niua - Men's Eagles Sevens 
Thretton Palamo - London Welsh RFC (England) 
Greg Peterson - Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) 
Mike Petri - NYAC 
John Quill - NYAC 
Blaine Scully (Vice Captain) - Cardiff Blues (Wales) 
Hayden Smith - Saracens FC (England) 
Louis Stanfill - Seattle Saracens RC 
Andrew Suniula - CSM Bucuresti (Romania) 
Shalom Suniula - Seattle Saracens RC 
Joseph Taufete'e - Belmont Shore RFC 
Zack Test - Men's Eagles Sevens 
Phil Thiel - Life Rugby 
Brett Thompson - Men's Eagles Sevens 
Chris Wyles (Captain) - Saracens FC (England)

Men's Eagles | Rugby World Cup 2015 Staff 
Mike Tolkin - Head Coach 
Justin Fitzpatrick - Assistant Coach (Forwards) 
Nate Osborne - Assistant Coach (Backs/Attack) 
Phil Bailey - Assistant Coach (Defence) 
David Williams - Strength and Conditioning Coach 
Chris O'Brien - Assistant Coach (Video Analyst) 
Paul Goulding - Video Analyst 
Richard Quincy - Physiotherapist 
Zach Vyhnanek - Physiotherapist 
Sarah Sall - Massage Therapist 
Matt Schmitz - Doctor (Samoa/Scotland) 
Sam Akhavan - Doctor (South Africa/Japan) 
Brad Norris - Doctor (South Africa) 
Steve Durant - Sports Psychologist 
Matt McCarthy - Media Manager 
Kevin Battle - Assistant Team Manager 
Tristan Lewis - Team Manager

 

 

Men's Eagles | Rugby World Cup 2015 
v. Samoa - Sunday, Sept. 20 - 7 a.m. ET 
v. Scotland - Sunday, Sept. 27 - 9:30 a.m. ET 
v. South Africa - Wednesday, Oct. 7 - noon ET 
v. Japan - Sunday, Oct. 11 - 3 p.m. ET

 

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