KOBE, Japan (AP) — England pummeled the United States 45-7 Thursday in a rude welcome to the Rugby World Cup for the Americans, who had a man red-carded late to add to the second-heaviest loss at the tournament so far.
England scored seven tries in Kobe and nearly made the U.S. the first team to be kept scoreless after 12 games at Rugby World Cup 2019.
The Americans scored their only try nearly two minutes after the final hooter when replacement Bryce Campbell dived over near the posts following a wild passage of play filled with errors by both sides.
Campbell’s try was still zero consolation for the Americans.
“It was a bit of a calamity in Kobe tonight,” U.S. head coach Gary Gold said. “We were taught a lesson. We lost every single aspect of the game.”
The U.S., the last team to make its debut in this World Cup, was also the first to have a man sent off and Gold’s pre-match prediction that his team was facing a severe test against the 2003 World Cup winner proved correct.
Flanker John Quill flattened England’s Owen Farrell in a high, no-arms tackle in the 70th minute for the red card offense, provoking a melee that involved nearly every player on the field. Quill was ordered off after referee Nic Berry checked video replays. Quill is the first American to get a red at a Rugby World Cup.
England coach Eddie Jones said Farrell, the team’s regular captain but who came on as a replacement this game, was “missing part of his nose” after the hit.
Gold had no complaints about the ref’s decision and Quill could be banned for the rest of the tournament, which looks like ending early again for a team that has never made the quarterfinals.
In exposing the Americans, England also enhanced its title credentials under Jones. England has scored 80 points and conceded 10 and just one try in its opening two games. The toughest tests do await for England, though, with Argentina and France — who are a different level to Tonga and the U.S. — its remaining pool games.
“We’re in a good position. Can we play better? Yes. And we know we can,” a smiling Jones said.
England ran in seven tries, the first in the sixth minute by stand-in captain and flyhalf George Ford, who ran the game and never let the Americans off the hook. He sliced through for the first try before forwards Billy Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie crossed at the back of rolling mauls within eight minutes of each other for 19-0 at halftime.
The U.S. could do nothing to stop those mauls as they surged over the line with little resistance.
“It’s a hell of a weapon if you can get it going,” Ford said.
More than just the maul, the English had a dominant scrum and lineout, and also used a pinpoint kicking game to break down the Americans and open them up for England’s backs to run through in the second half.
Wing Joe Cokanasiga secured the four-try bonus point early in the second half with the first of his two tries. The other wing, Ruaridh McConnochie, and flanker Lewis Ludlam also crossed.
England was breaking away down the right with a few minutes to go and headed for an eighth try and 50 points when play was called back for a head injury to U.S. fullback Will Hooley. Hooley was concussed, left on a stretcher and was in the hospital, Gold said.
Everything went wrong for the U.S., pretty much from start to finish.
In the first scrum of the game after two minutes, the American pack crumpled and promising 19-year-old prop David Ainu’u was left with an injured ankle. He limped straight off and was on crutches after the game.
Both him and Hooley won’t play the next game against France, Gold said.
England, which even rested some of its top players, had nearly 80% of the territory and barely let the U.S. into its own half. The stats told the story: England made 157 ball carries. The U.S. made 58. England made 619 meters with ball in hand, the U.S. 231. Line breaks: 19-3.
But U.S. captain Blaine Scully insisted he wasn’t demoralized by the result.
“Can’t afford it, to be honest,” he said. “We can’t afford it. Our reaction is going to define us.”