Men's Youth Olympic Games 2018: Day Three Recap

BUENOS AIRES, ARG. – The U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Rugby team has concluded their run at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 in fifth-place. A competitive tournament saw the United States finish with a 1-2-3 record overall, with an opening loss to home team Argentina and final victory over Samoa filling Day Three. The High School All-Americans will return home after an eventful experience at the Youth Olympic Games, which saw players grow immensley in each match as they approached the challenges of a competitive competition. 

View Final Group Standings Here

Match Five: United States 14, Argentina 22

The United States opened their final match of pool play against No. 1 seed and home team Argentina, the only undefeated squad who already sealed their place in the gold medal match. A strong opening performance saw the USA put tremendous pressure on the Argentinians, with the U.S. keeping Team Argentina behind the halfway mark with a burst of physicality. A dangerously low tackle on Johnny Mahe gave the home team an advantage as they quickly break open for their first try on the outside. The following play saw USA answer back when an offload from Jasper Green to Co-Captain Alex Cleary allowed Cleary to run it all the way, 7-7. When the next half began, Team USA’s Isaia Kruse danced his way to the finish line with a beautiful pitch-length run that gave the United States an edge at 7-14. Tensions rose as both teams fought for possession and another damaging card on Johnny Mahe paved the way for Argentina to score three back-to-back tries for the win, 14-22. The conclusion was devastating and yellow card mistakes ultimately proved deadly; but overall, the U.S. side displayed a character and grit that carried them into their final game.   

Match Six (5/6 Place): United States 24, Samoa 14

Team USA opened their final match of the Youth Olympics determined to seal a victory. The beginning was again tough, with Samoa drawing first blood on a wide-open breakaway and a deep run by Isaia Kruse unable to answer back. After the first try — and for quite some time — the United States and Samoa saw back and forth turnovers halt each from putting any more points on the board. But, in a turn of events, the Samoans won the upper hand and capitalized on their own deep run to speed away from USA and dot down again. The U.S. would finally answer just before the half, when Junior Waqavesi gained considerable ground, darting past defenders for an offload on the right flank to Johnny Mahe for the score, 7-14. Just as the second half began, Zach Neff pushed past Samoan defenders and ran clear across the pitch to score his first try of the Games and tie it up, 14-14. A long breakaway by Jasper Green gave the United States another and a quick run around the bend allowed Jon Rodriguez to dominate a final scrum, putting one over and sealing fifth place for USA. The 24-14 victory was Team USA’s first win of the tournament after a valiant team-led effort. 

From Head Coach JD Stephenson

“Upon reflecting on the tournament, what was evident was the growth of this team on and off the pitch. We started to believe and trust one another and that has translated into more capitalized opportunities.

“What is always amazing to me is the fighting American spirit that is relentless and doubles down when challenged or put into a corner – much like we were early in this tournament. Full credit must go to our Young Dawgs, our physiotherapist Alan Wallace, the Men’s Sevens program, Tom Pirelli and the rest of the Golden Eagles for affording these 12 young men this life-changing experience.” 


1. Inoke “Junior” Waqavesi (C)
2. Alex Cleary (C)
3. Tyren Al-Jiboori
4. Lauina Falatea
5. Zach Neff
6. Ben Wierenga
7. Jasper Green
8. Max Clark
9. Jon Rodriguez
10. Sione “Johnny” Mahe
11. Isaia Kruse
12. Uluamu Niutupuivah

U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Rugby Team Staff

Head Coach | JD Stephenson
Athletic Trainer | Alan Wallace 



vs France 38-0 (L)

vs Samoa 24-24 (D)
Tries: Tryen Al-Jiboori (2), Inoke Waqavesi (2)
Conversions: Sione Mahe, Jon Rodriguez

vs South Africa 19-12 (L)
Tries: Johnny Mahe, Isaia Kruse
Conversions: Jon Rodriguez

vs Japan 17-17 (D)
Tries: Johnny Mahe, Isaia Kruse, Jasper Green
Conversions: Johnny Mahe

vs Argentina 22-14 (L)
Tries: Alex Cleary, Isaia Kruse 
Conversions: Isaia Kruse (2)

5/6 Place Match
vs Samoa 24-14 (W)
Tries: Jasper Green, Johnny Mahe, Zach Neff, Jon Rodriguez
Conversions: Isaia Kruse (2)