Up and Under is a weekly feature on Americas Rugby News which reviews the best and worst from games involving the Americas teams over the previous week.
Canada successfully rebounded from their round one defeat to topple Chile on Saturday. Their victory gets their Americas Rugby Championship campaign back on track. Despite winning 36-15, the Canadians were far from playing their best rugby. Ultimately a hat-trick from star winger Taylor Paris delivered the result. A tough test awaits at home against the USA next weekend. A win for Canada would place them in a strong position to travel to South America to face Brazil and Uruguay.
The Eagles are flying high. Following losses against Romania and Tonga in November they are now playing well. They made it two-from-two in the Americas Rugby Championship on Saturday. The 51-3 bonus point victory over Brazil was the best performance since John Mitchell took over as Head Coach. Mitchell demonstrated his wisdom by naming regulars Cam Dolan and Todd Clever on the bench. This enabled them to come on and have a tremendous impact on the match. Indeed the USA turned a 13-0 half time lead into a 51-3 thumping victory.
Serious talent was on display in Bahía Blanca. For one the scrumhalf crisis looks set to be avoided. Argentina’s top two, Martín Landajo and Tomás Cubelli, are both sidelined for months through injury. Felipe Ezcurra and Gonzalo Bertranou are the options in place of them but now another name can be added – Sebastián Cancelliere. A hat-trick from the Hindú speedster was crucial to the Argentina XV’s momentum. A number of others also impressed. Santiago Álvarez, Tomás de la Vega, and Julían Domínguez showed well and Santiago Montagner made a big impact as a replacement. All looking like having the means for the next level. Moreover no player looked like not deserving his spot on the field.
Slowly but surely rugby is developing in the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The Haitian Rugby Federation (FEHRU) and Rugby American North (RAN) recently combined to organize high-level Rugby 7’s training in the country. The FEHRU organized a training course for coaches and for several teams in the West: Lilavois, Sibert, Delmas 2, Bon-Repos, Canaan and in the North: Milot and Limbe. The training was facilitated by Canadian official Nathan Abdelnour. Haiti is also actively working in a partnership with two other countries – the Dominican Republic and Martinique. A partnership has been signed between the three countries to mutually benefit the development of all.
Chilean prop Ramón Ayarza scored his first ever try in the Top 14. The 23-year-old came on for Bayonne as a replacement against Racing 92 and scored in the second half. He joined fellow Cóndores cap Pablo Huete in playing for the Basque side. Also scoring points for Bayonne was Martín Bustos Moyano. The Córdoba fullback kicked three goals. The club will need more heroics to remain in the Top 14. The club fell 59-20 to Racing 92 this weekend.
The host nation for Rugby World Cup 2023 will be determined this year. In the running are three unions – France, Ireland and South Africa. All have hosted in some capacity in the past. Should the French bid be successful it would make 2023 the biggest ever Rugby World Cup. In looking to be the first ever European solo host the France is set to take matches to all corners of the hexagon. It would make what a a hugely profitable event in 2027 pale by comparison and with it England 2015 drop to second place in attendance and financial gain. Should World Rugby look to repeat their history in going from New Zealand 2011 to England 2015 then neither Ireland nor South Africa will host the 2023 event. Japan 2019 is still deemed a risk. France 2023 offers a guaranteed jackpot. Involved in the France 2023 launch was Puma Juan Imhoff.
It would be difficult to find a more appalling half of rugby from Brazil. Os Tupis were utterly dreadful on Saturday. They went from 13 points down at half-time to a 48-point defeat. While the USA is a Rugby World Cup regular, the reality is that the Eagles side was far from their best team. AJ MacGinty and Blaine Scully faced Uruguay but not Brazil. A legion of top talent currently playing overseas or on the HSBC Sevens Series – the likes of Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, and Thretton Palamo – were all missing. After showing promise against an admittedly weak Chilean side, Brazil took a step backwards in Texas.
The travel factor appeared to get the better of Los Teros. Going from San Antonio to Bahía Blanca is a tough ask. The Argentina XV, nonetheless, traveled further, all the way from Vancouver Island. Uruguay was playing on the back foot for the vast majority of the match. The Argentina XV dominated both possession and territory and was able to find a variety of ways across the try line. The result sees Uruguay’s losing streak extended further. Their last win was against Spain in June 2016.
Los Cóndores were better this week but were still off the pace. Chile scored two tries, two more than against Brazil but also conceded five. Canada, by their own admission, did not play well. Los Cóndores thereby simply must improve their play to be more competitive in the tournament. The light at the end of the tunnel for Chile may well be that a number of players that faced Canada were not first choice players. This will enable Chile to get more out of their top starts for remaining matches back in South America.
The Canadian enforcer saw red on Friday. Playing for Oyonnax against Colomiers, Cudmore was sent off for punching early in the match. It was his fifth red card in French league play since his arrival in 2003, but his first since the famous punch-up with Robins Tchale-Watchou in 2009. The veteran of four Rugby World Cups is now in doubt for upcoming matches. Oyonnax’s lead in the Pro D2 is now just one competition point. Currently on 58, the club is in a fight with a number of others. Colomiers has 57, Agen 56, Montauban 54, and Biarritz and Mont-de-Marsan both 53.
US Eagles winger Zack Test is on the mend after requiring emergency surgery on a head injury suffered in the match against Uruguay nine days ago. The 27-year-old came off in the 39th minute of the Americas Rugby Championship fixture in San Antonio after taking a knock to the head, his second of the first half. He was visibly unsteady while taken from the field and then stretchered off from the sidelines. Test has now been released from the hospital and released a message on social media thanking the rugby community for the support.
Leguizamón, Sánchez Out
Preparation problems continue ahead of the new season. Two senior Jaguares players have been ruled out of the Super Rugby Opener against the Kings. Veterans Nicolás Sánchez and Juan Manuel Leguizamón will miss the start of the season after having suffered injuries in warm-up matches. Sánchez has a tear in his quadriceps while Leguizamón is recovering from ligament injury in his knee. Both players had been likely to play against the Kings, the same is true of Martín Landajo who is also out. Facundo Isa continues to train separately from the remainder of the roster. Raúl Pérez appears set to field the uncapped duo of Gonzalo Bertranou and Joaquín Díaz Bonilla. Leonardo Senatore will be the likely starting no8 with Pablo Matera and Javier Ortega Desio completing the back row.