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Up and Under – ARC 2017 Edition

The 2017 Americas Rugby Championship has come and gone. It was a tremendous success for the sport overall. There were upset results with some performing above expectations. There were also low points with areas requiring the attention of both teams and administrators for 2018.


The Competition
In looking to replicate the Six Nations the ARC has succeeded. Although the tournaments are vastly different in geographical terms the structural set-up is identical. All teams play against each other with the winner being determined by competition points. In both 2016 and 2017 the three World Cup regulars were pushed by the opposition, two of them losing in the process. There is still work to be done but the foundations are in place for a bright future.

Add Relegation
The time to start talk about relegation is set to begin. For the time being the ARC is a six nation tournament. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future but something better is instead expected. Agustín Pichot has made no secret of the plans for a second division. The established Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby task for 2017 now should be to seeing this through. Paraguay, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Guyana and the Cayman Islands are currently ranked 7th-12th in the Americas. A playoff between the next best, Venezuela and the Cayman Islands could also be plausible. Similarly the winner ought to face the bottom ARC side in a promotion-relegation encounter.

Eagles Never Say Die
The USA’s thrilling last-gasp draw against the Argentina XV gave them the title. With it the ARC has two different champions in as many seasons.  The Eagles gave it their all to get the draw. Early on in the second half against the Argentina XV it did not look likely. The home side had won back the lead and the Eagles were two men down to yellow cards. To complete the comeback showed tremendous will to succeed. Earlier wins for the USA were all comprehensive. The Eagles are flying high.

As in 2016 Brazil claimed a big scalp, that of Canada. Having also defeated Chile in round one the Brazilians finish above Canada this year. A 4th place finish is very much mission accomplished for the Tupis. Leading the way was Moisés Duque. The inside center kicked Brazil to the win over the USA in 2016 and did so again against Canada in 2017. He finished with 43 points, joint-leader on the scoring charts.

Ben Cima
The other man to share the scoring title, also with 43 points. In Cima, the USA have a player of huge potential. The 20-year-old made his debut for the USA in round one against Uruguay. His recognized potential from the u20s was converted into the senior side. Cima had strong performances both at flyhalf and fullback. His goal kicking is also superior to that which has been available to the USA for a very long time. Cima looks a certainty for Japan 2019 and beyond.

Los Teros also made it a double against the North Americans. In 2016 Uruguay defeated the USA in Montevideo. In 2017 it was a home win in Punta del Este over Canada. Having also defeated both Brazil and Chile the final placing of Los Teros was third. Uruguay performed strongly in four of the five matches. The loss against the Argentina XV was Uruguay’s only disappointing performance.

Argentina Venues
The Argentina XV had three home matches and spread them. All three were very well attended with no empty seats to be spotted. The UAR took the opportunity to help spread rugby around the country. Bahía Blanca hosted Uruguay, Ushuaia hosted Brazil, and Comodoro Rivadavia hosted the USA. All three are south of Buenos Aires. Los Pumas’ home matches are also spread but in Buenos Aires and the northern half of the country.



Canada’s geographical size and rugby’s amateur status in the country are tough obstacles to overcome. It is also difficult for them to call on their European stars for the entirety of the tournament, with many missing completely. Some of the players involved for Canada are notably behind the level of those who played for the country at Rugby World Cup 2015. Rugby Canada needs to address the problem of why so many players were simply substandard, with the lack of a proper domestic competition surely the biggest factor. Failing to develop the Canadian Rugby Championship is not going to help this but make it tougher. Professional rugby is needed in Canada either with a local competition or by joining another one.

Chile was the worst side in the competition. Los Cóndores were not up to the standard asked. Aside from their fixture against Brazil the Chileans were unable to compete. The poor showing against the Brazilians can be contributed to the rain but the other results are a result of a lack of facilities, preparation, and amateurism. Players can only try their best. The unions are responsible for ensuring they have the best possible facilities and preparation. Before the 2016 competition Head Coach Paul Healy walked out on Rugby Chile. In doing so he was criticized from Santiago but he has been proven to have been on the money. Chile have a solitary win from two years in the competition. This will only change with significantly improved investment. A High performance Center mirroring that of Montevideo is absolutely essential.

Argentina XV – Not Pumas
Saturday’s draw against the USA underlined why the team is not playing as Los Pumas. Had it been a sanctioned test match then Argentina would have fallen in the World Rugby rankings. For 2018 work is needed to get many more players released from Los Jaguares to play for the Argentina XV. With this done the team could legitimately play as Los Pumas. In Round 5 Gabriel Ascárate and Santiago Álvarez were involved. Rodrigo Báez, Emiliano Boffelli, Juan Cruz Guillemaín, Bautista Ezcurra, and Santiago Portillo could also have been with better planning. It’s time for Argentina to treat the tournament with the same respect the other teams have committed to by attributing full test status.

This is 2017 but the matches did not involve TMOs. Consequently incorrect calls were made. There were instances of tries given as officials missed a knock-on. There were also instances of foul play which were not addressed. The match officials had no help during the ugly fracas in Maldonado while other cards might not have been given at all with the benefit of a second viewing. If club matches in Texas can have a TMO, surely it is not too much to ask of international rugby.

7s Dates
The World Rugby 7s dates disrupted several sides in the tournament. Players either had limited or no involvement in the ARC due to dates of the Wellington, Sydney, and Las Vegas events. A sampling of players missing in action includes Bautista Delguy, Fernando Luna, Nicolás Herreros, Felipe Brangier, Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, and Madison Hughes. Canada might well have called on one or two players to bolster their side as well given their problems. It may simply be the case that this clash is unavoidable, in which case teams will have to decide which competition takes priority.

About Americas Rugby News

Formally created in June 2015, this website’s goal is to increase media exposure of the Tier 2 rugby nations, and create a hub with a focus on the stories of rugby in the Americas – North, Central and South.

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  • Respeto1

    Es una falta de respeto decir que Argentina no trata con respeto al torneo, y el argumento es verdaderamente ridículo.

  • argie66

    Respeto1 But it’s true that Argentina does not risk points in the Rankings.

  • Respeto1

    argie66 es verdad, porque es Argentina XV y no Los Pumas, pero por qué habla de falta de respeto? Es una irresponsabilidad decir eso en un medio como este, aun cuando lo lean pocas personas alguno se puede quedar con la idea de que Argentina no respeta a los rivales y al torneo y no es así.

  • Respeto1 It does not say anything about disrespect.
    “It’s time for Argentina to treat the tournament with the same respect the other teams have committed to by attributing full test status.”

    The other teams also field teams that are weakened, yet still play as their national teams and risk World Rugby rankings points. Argentina do not. Therefore they are not giving the same level of respect to the tournament, by definition. It’s not improper wording nor is it debatable. It’s a fact.
    Perhaps this is getting lost in translation. @argie66 if you speak Spanish you might be able to explain this better.

  • TroyCrites

    Respeto1 argie66 I honestly got no sense that the writer was attempting to convey any sense of disrespect to Argentina. No idea where that accusation is coming from. The Eagles side that faced Argentina XV was mostly guys with less than 5 caps to their name. Most all of the big name stars were away playing in Europe at the time, so it could easily be claimed that the US sent an ‘A’ side. Yet it was still considered by the US to be a full side and worth ranking points. It is time for Argentina to show that same level of commitment to the ARC as the other teams do. That’s not disrespect to Argentina, it is simply the way it is.

  • FeDeG0L

    The idea behind the ARC is to give a competitive platform and to develop tier 2 teams. For Argentina it helps to test and increase the range of players for Jaguars/Pumas. The tournament would turn pretty dull if Argentina plays with Los Pumas side (Tier 1) instead of Argentina XV.
    Moreover, I agree with the fact that all matches should be considered for the ranking. This will also enhance ARC.

  • Schula77

    It got lost in translation

  • Schula77

    I agree with TMO all the tournament, should have it. Great tournament , I think other countries in ARC don’t get 12 test matches a year that s why the tournament ranks them. Argentina plays 6 tests June/November plus 6 Rugby Championship matches. Argentina has 44 players with Jaguars plus the ones playing in Europe. Argentina XV is a developmental team, not even the second best. Argentina XV won the tournament last year and lost this one by 1 bonus point. They are doing pretty good and developing young talent , mission accomplished .

  • TheStroBro

    The last Argentina venue should be on the under, that place was brutal.

  • FeDeG0L The argument is that Argentina should play AS Los Pumas, not necessarily with their top players. Nobody is suggesting that they prioritize the ARC over the Jaguares, at least none of the writers from this site. We are simply suggesting they should award full test status to their games. They have done it in the past during the South American Championships and virtually every country in the world has awarded caps at one point or another for games with B-level players against weaker test sides. Ireland vs Georgia, New Zealand vs Samoa, etc. The actual players on the field won’t change much, if at all. The UAR is protecting the Pumas brand, we get it, but what happens if one day the Eagles decide they want to do the same?

  • argie66

    Respeto1 argie66 Sorry for the Spanish.
    En Inglés no solo significa respeto, también significa consideración. Por lo que la traducción quedaría: “Es tiempo que Argentina trate al torneo con la misma consideración que los otros equipos  se han comprometido, al darle estatus de full test matches”.

    I’m not sure if Japan ever showed up at the Asian Rugby Championship as Japan A, with full test status.

  • argie66

    TheStroBro Yes, there is a big deficit in sports infrastructure. There are not many good stadiums especially in Patagonia. But the important thing is that it is not only played in the central areas, this sport is promoted in the more remote areas too. Something good in the UAR.