Eddie Jones’ quip that the United States will play like “15 Donald Trumps” when the teams meet at the Rugby World Cup in Japan on Thursday has intensified the build-up to what should prove a routine win for England.
“They’re going to come out all guns blazing,” Jones said. “It’s going to be like 15 Donald Trumps out there, so we’ll have to be on our job, because we know they’re going to give it everything they’ve got, just like Tonga did.”
USA coach Gary Gold did not react, mindful that his squad, at No 13 in the rankings and below the likes of Georgia, have little right to bravado against the 2003 world champions. Instead, the Americans are focusing on humility.
The Eagles have won one game in three previous Rugby World Cups and three out of 25 Tests in their World Cup history. This year, they must face three Tier 1 nations in England, France and Argentina in their first three games in Pool C.
The Americans lost 28-10 to England in 2007 on the way to finishing winless and last in the pool, while they also finished bottom of the pool with an 0-4 record at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“At this stage, with all due respect, we’re not a good enough rugby team to be making comments or answers to questions like that,” Gold, a South African, said when asked for his reaction to Jones’ 15 Donald Trumps comparison. “I don’t know what it means.”
Despite Jones’ early exuberance in Japan, his team Jones has made 10 changes to his starting line-up to manage that quick turnaround.
In contrast, while the English were taking on the Tongans up in Hokkaido, the USA have been in camp on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa for two weeks preparing for their entry to the World Cup.
“We know they’ve been down in Okinawa preparing with marines so they’ll be hardened for battle,” Jones added.
Against England, the Eagles have named several players who have experience of England and English players.
Hooker Joe Taufete’e, prop Titi Lamositele, fly-half AJ MacGinty and centre Paul Lasike each play in the English Premiership, as does replacement-back Bryce Campbell.
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“We’re trying to get better,” said USA captain and wing Blaine Scully, who formerly played in England. “We’ve shown we can improve and we are improving. That’s where our focus is.”