We're right in the middle of the Americas Rugby Championship and really, we've started our 2019 Rugby World Cup preparation. This past weekend I was able to experience the sort of thing in rugby that stands alone -- the great United States vs. Canada rivalry.
One of the great things about this game of rugby is that around the world you find some amazing rivalries, and U.S.-Canada has got to be up there. You look at the history and see how far back the trophy goes -- over 40 years -- and you see how important this match is on its own.
For me, it was a massive privilege to be involved. You're obviously in the middle of another competition, but in isolation it's a big game and something I was really proud to be a part of.
Also, we won the game. The final score was 29-10, but as far as the performance went, I was a little disappointed with how we played in the first half. We got off to a good start, but we started to make critical errors. I know Blaine Scully wrote that we were fortunate going into half-time with a 14-7 lead, and I'd agree with that. It was a pretty unsatisfactory feeling for us at the break.
Canada were more dominant at the breakdown, and we got ourselves in a tight situation. I would assume they're kicking themselves a little, as well, for not taking some opportunities we gave them.
We need to learn that lesson and understand that in no circumstances can we take these last three games, including Chile this Saturday [Live on ESPN3, kick off 2 p.m, PST], lightly. If we play against other teams the way we did against Canada, we're going to be in for a hiding.
Chile will bring a lot of energy and will play with a lot of passion. They'll run at us from all corners of the park. So, from our point of view, it's important we control the game and learn the lessons from this past weekend.
We need to put in a clinical performance. We set goals for this weekend and we've got to be hard on ourselves to go out and achieve them. We need to harness those opportunities, because there's not a huge amount of them in the game of rugby, and in doing so, be a more clinical team.
We'll now regroup quickly off Canada and get a good performance in at home. Work on ourselves and our improvement level, because as we leave for South America, we want to be improving when we do.
We received some really strong performances from some guys who are playing professionally in Europe, who will return to their professional clubs this week. That's a really new experience for me. I have never been involved in international rugby where players have to be released mid-competition. It's something I've had to adjust to, but I am also looking forward to who can come in and help us.
Blaine Scully, Drew Durutalo, Titi Lamostiele, and Joe Taufete'e are all returning to their clubs and while it presents a challenge, I understand we want to have good relationships with those clubs.
Prop Angus Maclellan has been in camp with us already -- he's had a week. Psalm Wooching, who played gridiron with the University of Washington, has been with us already and it's a wonderful opportunity for him. Malon Al-Jiboori, who has played with the USA Sevens team, also is with us, and hooker Dylan Fawcett comes in. I am excited these types of players get an opportunity.
This is an important week for them, but it's also an important week for us. We have to build on what we've done.