The American Cougars (also known as the USA Cougars or United States Cougars) is the only rugby union team from the United States ever to beat a reigning Currie Cup championship team in South Africa. A combined and invitational side from the United States, the Cougars toured South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1978. The team was coached by Ray Cornbill, coach of the Eagles during the 1970s and 1980s. The squad comprised 25 players from 20 clubs, including 3 from Santa Monica Rugby Football Club, 2 each from Chicago Lions RFC, Washington DC RFC, and UCLA RFC.
On 12 August 1978 they lost 12-44 to a racially-mixed South African Country Districts XV side at East London. Some 5,500 spectators watched as future Springbok Errol Tobias contributed two tries to the Districts' total and aided in the scoring of two others. By half-time the Districts were ahead 24-3. Cougars' wing Tommy Smith, usually a fly-half, "registered a spectacular score" that was converted by fullback Dennis Jablonski. Jablonski added two penalty kicks to complete the visitors' score.
1978 touring squad to southern Africa
Colours: Red, White & Blue Hoops
Coach: Ray Cornbill
Manager: Keith Seaber
|Joe Sheitlin||Fullback||Minneapolis RFC |
|Dennis Jablonski||Fullback||Santa Monica RFC|
|Mike Hodgins||Wing||Atlanta Renegades RFC |
|Vic Clark||Wing||Kansas City Blues RFC|
|Tommy Smith||Wing||Washington D.C. RFC|
|Dan Wack||Centre||Washington D.C. RFC|
|Boyd Morrison||Centre||Louisiana State Univ RFC|
|Mike Fanucchi||Centre||Old Gaels RFC - California|
|Ian Gunn||Fly-half||Old Puget Sound Beach RFC|
|Steve Gray||Fly-half||UCLA RFC |
|Dick Cooke||Scrum-half||University of Iowa RFC |
|Kirk Andrus||Scrum-half||Santa Rosa RFC|
|Gary Wilson||Prop||Chicago Lions RFC|
|Mickey Ording||Prop||Olympic Club Rugby, San Francisco |
|Mike Lancaster||Prop||Northern Virginia RFC |
|Bruce Henderson||Prop||Wichita RFC|
|Jessie Lopez||Hooker||Fort Wayne RFC |
|Jeff Hollings||Hooker||Old Blues RFC|
|Jerry Kelleher||Lock||Santa Monica RFC|
|John Fowler]]||Lock||UCLA RFC|
|Nick Fedorenko||Lock||Chicago Lions RFC|
|Jeff Lombard||Flanker||Chuckanut Bay RFC|
|Clarence Culpepper (capt.)||Flanker||Roanoke RC |
|Tom Selfridge||8th Man||Schenectady Reds RFC|
|Brad Andrews||8th Man||Santa Monica RFC|
- "Cornbill named USA assistant coach". ESPN Scrum. 2000-04-05. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Rhodesia vs the United States of America". Our Rhodesian Heritage. 1978. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "South Africans Down Americans". The News and Courier. Associated Press. 1978-08-12. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Sports Shorts". The Robesonian. Associated Press. 1978-08-11. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
- "Sports Catalogue May 2010" (.DOC file). Select Books. 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Dan Wack - Trustee". US Rugby Foundation. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "US Team Scores Upset". The Prescott Courier. 1978-08-18. pp. 15–A. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "U.S rugby team bows to Rhodesians, 32-15". The Baltimore Sun. 1978-08-29. pp. C6. Retrieved 2011-12-23.