Austin Gilgronis' Marcel Brache Talks His Move to MLR and Playing the All Blacks
Following the USA's 50-34 aggregate loss at the hands of Uruguay, the Eagles now prepare for a clash with the All Blacks at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Football Team.
Having started in all of the Eagles' Rugby World Cup qualifiers so far, Marcel Brache spoke to Major League Rugby about the Eagles and his recently announced move to the Austin Gilgronis.
MOVING TO AUSTIN
Despite having been born in Los Angeles, California, much of Brache's professional rugby career has taken place overseas. Having been raised in South Africa, the 34-year-old made his Eagles debut in 2016 whilst playing domestically in Australia for the Western Force.
Having now left the Australian team, it was announced at the start of September that the utility back would be moving to Bold Stadium for the 2022 MLR season.
When speaking to gilgronis.com, Brache discussed how he spoke with Bryce Campbell, Will Magie and Ruben de Haas about a potential move Stateside and to head coach Sam Harris about the team.
"I was very lucky that I spoke to a few people around the Eagles setup, I had heard great things about Sam Harris, the program and the environment he was trying to build," Brache said.
"When I spoke with Sam, I always came off the phone and felt more optimistic and felt like there was a challenge I wanted to face in Austin. Sam was a huge part of that, and they want to set up a successful organization from the ground all the way up.
"That was something I was really interested in and a really exciting thing to be a part of, growing MLR - and the teams within it - as the organizations grow, that is one of the reasons I was attracted to it, and Austin was the team I fell for."
Having watched on as MLR has grown from afar, Brache will now be bringing a wealth of experience to the Austin environment.
Photo by Travis Prior
Having improved their fortunes in 2021, the Gilgronis were 10 points away from the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Likely to improve again next season, Brache is keen to emphasize that he is not moving back to America to wind down his career, but to content for silverware.
"First and foremost, and I have maintained this mentality throughout, it is not so much me coming back to finish off or to give back; we (Brache and his family) just want to be back close to family, and in an environment where I can continue to compete and push myself to play at a high level," Brache said.
"Coming to MLR, I am under no illusions as to how physical and tough the competition is, even though it is only in its fifth season. We have come back for a new challenge and to experience a new culture and a new environment, which Austin have showcased.
"We are really looking forward to getting to Austin and integrating ourselves within the local community and the rugby community, and for me to go out there and compete really hard. I want to get the best out of myself, pass on whatever knowledge and continue to learn from those around me."
MLR'S IMPACT ON THE EAGLES
When he made his first appearance for the Eagles back in 2016, Brache was one of a select few fully professional players in the national setup. Now the whole group is professional and are improving as a result.
For Brache, more than anything else, the adjustment period between leaving the club environment and getting to the Eagles is much smoother, allowing for better results on the field.
"You don't have teething issues," Brache said. "Guys would have to get to a standard of fitness and understanding the reasons what we are doing what we are doing, the game plan, tactical understandings and just basic skill sets.
Photo by Travis Prior
"It is a much more rounded individual that comes into the environment, and the environment is better because of it. Long may it continue, as we are looking to progress the game here in the States, and MLR is one of the founding movements to helping that.
"Each time you come into camp, you see a new guy, you find out about them, see them play and then you're counting down the days until my spot is taken. It is an exciting thing to know that there are constantly new players coming through.
"It gets me excited about where the game is heading, both for MLR and the Eagles. It is huge, and long may it continue."
PLAYING THE ALL BLACKS
This weekend will see the Eagles play their final game of 2021. It is the first time that New Zealand have set foot on USA soil since 2016, the two sides competing for the inaugural 1874 Cup at the home of the Washington Football Team.
There will be an Army-Navy curtain raiser on Saturday afternoon, the All Blacks heading to Europe to play Wales, Italy, Ireland and France across consecutive weekends.
Having already played England and Ireland this year, New Zealand are the third tier one opposition the Eagles will have faced this year.
Playing against tier one opposition is no doubt going to be a challenge, and Brache for one is raring to go.
Photo by Travis Prior
"This is what we as rugby players of emerging nations dream of," Brache said. "To play against some of the best teams in the world, and it doesn't get much bigger in rugby and world sport than the All Blacks.
"It will be an incredible day, and an incredible opportunity to test ourselves against, arguably, the best team of the modern era.
"They are a team that is synonymous with success and so many environments are built on the basis of what the All Blacks have achieved.
"It is an amazing opportunity for a lot of the guys to test themselves against these incredible athletes and players. I am putting myself in that group, because it is a different beast when you face tier one opposition, and the All blacks are top of the pops with that."
Written by Joe Harvey
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Major League Rugby Stories from October 22, 2021
- USA Men's Eagles Name 23-Man Match Day Roster - MLR
- Austin Gilgronis' Marcel Brache Talks His Move to MLR and Playing the All Blacks - Austin Gilgronis
- USA Eagles Prepare to Host New Zealand All Blacks - NOLA Gold
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