By Alex Goff (thanks to Paul Horne for some research)
August 13, 2004, Hamilton, Ont. – The USA All Americans and Canadian age-grade sides have kept up a rivalry that has been interrupted at times, but remains heated.
During off years, the rivalry is kept up with games between schools such as Cal and UBC, and Ohio State and McMaster.
But the big tests have come between the All Americans and Canada's U21 team. Often these games have been precursors to full-on tests, and this year looks to be no different.
The first match between the Canada U21 and the All Americans was played in Winnipeg in 1988, with a return match the following year in Colorado Springs.
The Canadian team was coached by Mike Luke and assisted by Ian MacMillan. Ray Skett was the manager and future Canada test halfback John Graf captained the Canadians both times. Under Jack Clark, the All Americans included only a few of future Eagles, including Gary Hein, Dennis Gonzalez, and Sean Allen. Oh, and 54-cap and future Eagle captain Dave Hodges.
The Canadians, who won both games, including a 33-18 victory in 1989, . This squad included Dave Lougheed, Scott Stewart, Bob Ross, and Mike Schmid – all future test greats.
In 1990 the teams met again in Regina, Saskatchewan, with the Canadians winning 25-12. Captain Bob Ross was brilliant with his goalkicking on the day. Paul Horne coached the Canadians and Clark again was with the All Americans. The Canada team feature Ian Cooper and returning Schmid, Stewart, and Ross. The Americans were highlighted bu Scott Bracken, Mas Morimoto, and Hodges.
The Americans finally won one in 1991 in Boston, taking a 29-9 decision. Rod Snow packed down for the Canadians, while the All Americans featured Ed Schram, Andre Bachelet, Ray Lehner, Steve Robke, and Bracken, back for his third year.
Canada took the return in Edmonton in 1992 in a real battle. Oddly, since the All Americans have never been an age-grade team, Canada later awarded the win to the All Americans because two Canadian players were discovered to be too old.
The series resumed after a two-year break in 1994 with a Canadian U-23 team against the All Americans in Long Beach. This one was a thriller, with Horne's Canadians edging out the Americans 31-26. Canada featured Mike James, Gareth Rowlands, Fred Asselin, Courtney Smith and captain Gregor Dixon.
Dr. Dale Toohey coached the Americans, and the coaches and some players were guests on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Future Eagles in that year's All Americans included Kevin Dalell, Ray Green, and Andy McGarry.
Canadian rugby was successful in the 1990s in part because the
players who were in the U21 program were able to continue playing at a
high level and make the national team. That trend was less evident among
the Americans, until recently. This year's Eagles have had as many as
ten All Americans in their starting lineup. Also interesting to note is
five of the 22 to play the Canadians tomorrow have played for the USA
U19 team as well.
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Copyright 2004 Alex Goff, Goff on Rugby, Elden & Goff
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