Engelbrecht on AIG MJAA loss to Canada

The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans relinquished a lead they held for nearly 80 minutes Monday in a 24-23 loss to Canada in the first leg of the World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier series at Shawnigan Lake School. Hanco Germishuys and Ian Kinsly scored the MJAAs’ tries and Ben Cima kicked both conversions and three successful penalty goals in the loss.

Following the match, MJAA Head Coach Michael Engelbrecht discussed the loss and the prospect of advancing to the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Portugal.

“Tough to lose that way but we will move forward,” he said. “Squad is still positive as they know they gave it away. All is not desperate, as the way I look at it we are one point down at the half.”

On match conditions
“The field and weather conditions didn’t help but they are equal for both teams. Our game plan under the conditions was to play in the Canada half of the field through the use of good exits from our half. Then, in the Canada half, put pressure on them via solid defense and also on attack by going through the phases. The plan was then to turn that pressure into points. Parts of that game plan worked in spite of inaccuracies on both attack and defense.

“We let ourselves down by turning over the ball too frequently in attack and also by not being able to string together multiple phases of positive defense. Our conditioning was really being challenged in the last 20 minutes of the game and it would be fair to say that this is an area of concern.”

On the opposition
“I think the teams are quite evenly matched, hence the one-point score differential. Both teams bring combinations of power, speed, and skill in different positions across the board. I’d say Canada perhaps has the edge in that they have played in the two-game series versus Romania just prior to this series. I think they have a better feel and chemistry within their playing combinations.

“We’ve now got this one game under our belts and hopefully that will shore up the understanding between our players. We do have system issues to work on, technical issues to work on, and tactical issues to work on. So much to do in such a short space of time; it would have been nice to have had a few games under our belt before getting here.”

On Man of the Match
“Hanco [Germishuys] was outstanding [Monday] and has a really bright future in this game. He was named Man of the Match in a post-game ceremony.”

On the second half
“Canada did put substantial pressure on our scrum, especially in the second half. I think that gave them a lot of confidence towards the end. Fatigue, amongst other things, contributed to the turn in momentum. Credit to Canada for competing until the very end and taking the victory, a great example of resiliency.”