USA and Russia set to renew rivalry
September 13, 2011
Mike Hercus racked up 26 points in the Eagles' win over Russia in Tokyo in 2004 © Getty Images
Two great sporting rivals collide on the biggest stage in rugby for the first time as the United States of America take on Russia in New Plymouth on Thursday.
The two sides have met only four times in total, with the Americans having three victories to their name. Russia's sole win came in their first encounter, in Moscow in September 1988, when they outscored the Eagles by five tries to two on their way to a 31-16, the visitors' cause not aided by the dismissal of winger Barry Williams.
They would not go head-to-head again for another 16 years but when they did the Eagles exacted some revenge for their defeat in the Russian capital, with Mike Hercus inspiring his country to a resounding 41-11 success in Tokyo, the fly-half scoring a try, a drop goal, four penalties and three conversions.
They have met twice, though, in the past 15 months. The States prevailed 39-22 in an exciting encounter in Glendale which featured eight tries, with fullback Chris Myles bagging a brace.
The Eagles also came out on top, 32-25, when the pair collided in Worcester during this year's Churchill Cup, a match which underlined the fact that there is now very little to choose between the two sides. So, epect another close, high-scoring game on Wednesday.
USA v Russia All-time record: Played: 4, USA won 3, Russia won 1.
Biggest winning margin: 30 - USA (41-11) in Tokyo May 30, 2004.
Highest score: 41 - USA (41-11) in Tokyo May 30, 200
Most tries: USA: 15 (102-0) in Glendale June 5, 2010; Russia: 5 (31-16) Moscow, September 25, 1988.
Most points (individual): USA: Make Hercus 26; Russia: Vasily Artemyev, Yuri Kushnarev 10.
Most tries (individual): USA: 2 Shaun Paga and Chris Wyles; Russia: 2 Vasily Artemyev.
Previous Rugby World Cup meetings:: None
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies