The Eagles arrived in Vancouver for their final pre-tournament game against Canada a little later than they expected.

American flyhalf Will Magie, who is part of the USA’s 31-man squad bound for the Rugby World Cup, explains.

The weight on the plane was a bit too much for the aircraft we were on.A few staff members had to get off. Too many big rugby dudes and too many bags.

For the 27-year-old star-spangled London-born rugby star, who spent the last two MLR seasons with the Glendale Raptors, it was just another step on his journey to Japan.

I played rugby and cricket in England and when I was 16, I had to make a decision as to what I was going to pursue more seriously, and I always just preferred rugby. Rugby is a bit more team-oriented and I think that probably trumped it in the end.

Pretty much all my summers would be back in the U.S. with family. Then at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d try to come over. Basically, whenever we weren’t in school, we’d be in the States, which was cool.

One of my earliest sports memories in the USA was meeting a baseball player called Willie McGee – who played for the St. Louis Cardinals – and I got a photo with him and a signed ball, which was cool. That was one of my early memories as a young American going to sporting events.

Now, my favourite sport to go to is ice hockey. I’m definitely an Avalanche [Colorado] fan. We’ve tried to get a pickup game of ice hockey going, but I think the coaching staff in Denver (with the Glendale Raptors) has said it’s way too dangerous and not a good idea. I can skate. I’ve never tried to play but I like to think I could.

It was a big decision to leave my life in England and come over to play in the U.S. and ultimately the goal was to put myself into a position to get picked to play for the Eagles. I always felt American growing up and then once you get a taste of playing, even U16s and beyond to the U20s, you meet some of the lads and you’re friends for life. It was a great decision and one that I’m very happy I made.

The U20 World Rugby Trophy was obviously a great tournament. I played two years, in 2011 (in Georgia) when we finished seventh and then the year after was in Salt Lake City, when we won it, so it was two very different experiences. But it was cool to play in that with guys who are still in the mix like Mike T’eo and Madison Hughes.

Debuting with the Eagles against Uruguay (Feb. 4, 2017) in the Americas Rugby Championship, Magie has now earned 25 caps, including 14 in a starting role. For sure, he has many highlights, but being part of USA’s historic win over Scotland in 2018 remains among his very best.

That win over Scotland was one of the great nights as a group and for USA Rugby history, so we’ve proved to ourselves that we can do that. We know what an amazing performance it was that night, and we’d like to replicate that two or three times in Japan. I remember coming in on the wing and being very uncomfortable that Stuart Hogg was going to run at me. [Magie laughs]. It was amazing. The boys put in an unbelievable performance. It was a great day, and the crowd was amazing in Houston, and the celebrations were pretty fun afterwards.

Being part of the American set-up, Magie of course gets to train alongside star flyhalf AJ MacGinty. It’s cool.

To be able to train with (starting USA flyhalf) AJ MacGinty and learn from him is amazing. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a bit of prankster around the squad, but he’s terrible at cards. I get one up on him there.

Of course he’s proud of his gaming skills. It’s been said that Magie can hold his own in a card game. Yet, there’s one game he rarely plays – Monopoly.

My great-great aunt actually invented a game called The Landlords Game, which is basically the same as modern day Monopoly. She sold the rights to the game to the Parker Brothers, which has become Monopoly. Elizabeth Magie is her name. Unfortunately, she sold it for about $500, which, at the time was a lot of money, but there’s no royalties. We didn’t play it much. Probably our hatred for not having those royalties. Whenever I play with mates now, I just say that I get to start with an extra $100. That’s the rule.

Now, finally, the real games are about to start. The Eagles open the RWC on Sept. 26 at 6:45 a.m. (ET) against England.

England won the World Cup when I was 11 years old, so it was a pretty impressionable age. It’s going to be an amazing experience. Obviously, everyone’s been talking about the tough group that we’re in, but we’re going over to Japan to fully compete and really look to push some of those perceived top teams as hard as we can.

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