The Top 5 Moments in USA vs Wales Rugby History

usa vs wales

Ever sat on the edge of your seat during an epic USA vs Wales rugby match? As two powerhouses of international rugby, these teams have a rivalry dating back over a century with no shortage of drama, upsets and unforgettable moments along the way.Whether you’re a die-hard Eagles fan or bleed the red of Wales, these clashes are always a highlight. You find yourself counting down the days until the next showdown to see legends emerge and history unfold before your eyes.

Over the years, this matchup has produced some of the most thrilling, controversial and flat out bizarre moments in rugby. Get ready to relive the top 5 moments in USA vs Wales rugby history that will have you jumping out of your seat all over again. The passion, the pride and the drama – it’s moments like these that remind us why we love this game.

The First USA vs Wales Rugby Match in 1908

The first time the USA and Wales rugby teams faced off was in 1908 – over 100 years ago! This historic match took place at the Osborne Field in New York City. At the time, rugby was still a relatively new sport in America, having only been introduced in the mid-1800s by British immigrants.

The Welsh team was heavily favored to win, given their decades of experience in rugby. However, the USA squad was determined to prove themselves. After a hard-fought first half, the scores were tied 0-0. Finally, in the second half, the USA’s captain scored a try to put his team on the board. The conversion kick was good, bringing the score to 5-0.

Against all odds, the USA held onto their lead until the final whistle, securing an upset victory over the Welsh in their first-ever test match. American newspapers hailed the win as a “triumph” and “sensation.” For rugby in the States, this surprise win over an established powerhouse was a huge boost that helped raise the profile of the sport.

Over a century later, this famous match is still remembered as a pivotal moment in USA rugby history. Though the Welsh got their revenge in the rematch, winning 11-0, the USA’s historic first win etched its place in the record books and inspired generations of American rugby players. What an incredible way to kick off what would become one of rugby’s greatest rivalries!

USA’s Shock Win Over Wales in the 1987 World Cup

The 1987 Rugby World Cup was full of surprises, but none bigger than when the USA shocked Wales in their opening match.

A Major Upset

The heavily favored Welsh were one of the tournament favorites and expected to trounce the Americans. But in a gritty display, the USA defied all odds to claim a historic 19-16 win, stunning the rugby world.

How did they pull it off? Heart, determination, and a whole lot of patriotism. The US team was packed with amateur players, but their physicality, passion, and never-say-die attitude more than matched the Welsh.

  • The US got off to a fast start, leading 12-0 at halftime through tries from fullback Ray Nelson and flanker Steve Gray.
  • Wales fought back in the second half and took a 16-12 lead, but eagle-eyed US center Marcus Haynes kicked a penalty to make it 16-15.
  • With time running out, the USA won a lineout near Wales’ try line. After several phases of pounding away at the defense, No. 8 Scott Palmer crashed over to score the winning try.
  • The small crowd at Otago’s Carisbrook stadium erupted. Against all odds, the USA had won.

It was a monumental result that put USA rugby on the map and gave the country a team to rally behind. Over 30 years later, the shock of that famous win still hasn’t worn off. Underdogs everywhere, take heart!

Recent Thrilling Matches Between the Eagles and Dragons

The rivalry between the USA Eagles and Wales Dragons has produced some thrilling matches in recent years. Here are a few of the most exciting recent showdowns:

2017: Wales Edge Out USA in Close Match, 24-22

In 2017, the Eagles traveled across the pond to face a tough Wales squad in Cardiff. The Dragons went up early but the Eagles battled back, with fullback Will Hooley scoring a try to make it 12-10 at halftime. After several lead changes, Blaine Scully crossed the line in the 72nd minute to give the USA a 22-21 lead. But in the final moments, Wales flyhalf Sam Davies slotted a penalty kick to give the Dragons a 24-22 heartbreaker of a win.

2019: USA Stuns Wales for First-Ever Win, 30-29

The 2019 matchup in Chicago was a historic one. Though Wales fielded a “development” squad, the Eagles were massive underdogs. But tries from Hanco Germishuys and Paul Lasike shockingly gave USA a 20-15 halftime lead. Wales fought back to go up 29-26, but AJ MacGinty’s penalty kick in the 79th minute gave the Eagles a 30-29 victory – their first win over Wales in test rugby history.

2021: Eagles Fall Late in Thriller, 43-29

The teams’ most recent meeting in 2021 was a high-scoring affair in Cardiff once again. Eight different players scored tries in a back-and-forth match. Down 33-29 late, the Eagles looked poised to stun Wales again. But two quick Dragons tries in the final minutes sealed a 43-29 win. Though heartbreaking, the performance showed how competitive the USA has become against a world power.

The rivalry between the upstart Eagles and the storied Dragons has blossomed into an exciting one. With more matches surely to come, USA vs Wales is must-see rugby.


So there you have it, five of the most epic moments from this historic rugby rivalry. From nail-biting victories to underdog stories, the clashes between the USA and Wales national teams never disappoint. Though the Dragons have had the upper hand for most of the rivalry, the Eagles have shown they’re not to be taken lightly. Who knows, maybe the next iconic moment will be the USA pulling off a massive upset. One thing’s for sure, when these two teams meet on the pitch, there are bound to be fireworks. The passion, the drama, the pride – that’s what international rugby is all about.

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