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.
For the second consecutive week North America has presented a world class sevens tournament with Vancouver arguably even more impressive than Las Vegas. Canadian fans turned out in droves with a record 76,000 over the two day event smashing the previous attendance record. Once again the atmosphere at BC Place drew rave reviews and high praise from names such as Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll. England ultimately claimed the top prize but North American rugby can take a bow for two weekends that are set to be staples on the HSBC Sevens Series for years to come.
Chilean rugby fans were treated to some excellent rugby from their charges in Vancouver on the weekend. Qualifying as the 16th team via the Sudamérica 7s, Chile nearly upset Series regulars Kenya on their last game on Day One and then produced a memorable 10-0 shutout of Russia on Day Two. It was Chile’s first win on the HSBC Sevens Series since 2010. Led by captain Felipe Brangier, Francisco Metuaze, and impressive youngsters Julio Blanc and Marcelo Torrealba, the team’s performance exceeded expectations and led many observers to label them the ‘best 16th team’ on the circuit this season.
The man nicknamed ‘Speedstick’ has run his way into the history books. The USA star brought up 100 career HSBC Sevens Series tries when he touched down for his second of the game against Fiji in the Bronze Medal Final. It was his ninth try of the tournament, a feat that also earned him selection to the tournament Dream Team. Baker is the second Eagles 7s player to achieve a century or more career tries, the first being all-time USA scoring leader Zack Test who is currently on 143. What makes Baker’s feat most remarkable is that he has hit the mark in only his third season on the circuit, having only switched to rugby full-time in 2013 from American football.
Los Jaguares made it two wins from three matches this season, downing the Lions 36-24. The win was the first home fixture for the Buenos Aires based Super Rugby franchise. It is a result for teams to take note of as it was against the 2016 beaten finalists. The Argentine side played their bet rugby of the season thus far. Flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez produced a master display. In addition to scoring a try the Tucumán No 10 kicked four penalties and two conversions in a 21 point haul. He also contributed to two further Jaguares tries. Fullback Joaquín Tuculet, winger Ramiro Moyano, and center Jerónimo de La Fuente also all scored one try each.
Americas Players in Europe
There were a number of strong performances this past weekend from Americas players in Europe. Axel Müller stared as Toulon hammered Bayonne on Saturday. He scored two tries and set up multiple others. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe also scored for Toulon. Chile’s Pablo Huete crossed for Bayonne while Martín Bustos Moyano landed goals. In the Guinness Pro 12 Guillermo Roan scored for Zebre who played away to Ulster. Back in France Ignacio Mieres and Benjamín Urdapilleta scored 13 and 12 points respectively for Dax and Castres while Patricio Albacete made his long-awaited return from injury.
Rugby World Cup 2027 in Argentina
The chances of Rugby World Cup 2027 being in Argentina are very high, says Agustín Pichot. The former Pumas skipper and World Rugby Vice Chairman has confirmed that his country stands an excellent chance of hosting a Rugby World Cup for the first time. The UAR not only has World Rugby backing but also the complete support and backing from Argentina’s government. President Mauricio Macri met with World Rugby officials during the 2016 Rugby Championship, doing so together with the UAR. This comes at a time in which rugby is experiencing tremendous expansion. Authorities back the move to play World Cups in new places.
The final details are being established for the 2017 Juegos Bolivarianos. FRC Operations Director Mario Henao has been meeting with officials in Santa Marta. The Colombian city is to host the event in November. Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens will be staged from November 19-23 with eight countries competing in each. Competitors have not yet been announced. They are to come from the following countries – Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. The hosts will be targeting Gold in both the women’s and men’s categories.
Former IRB Executive Council and Rugby Canada board member Chris LeFevre wrote an open letter directed at current Rugby Canada Chairman Tim Powers. While coming in the wake of the poor results during the Americas Rugby Championship, the letter is heavily critical of the management and direction of Rugby Canada and calls for immediate action. Canada finished 5th in the Americas Rugby Championship, losing four out of five matches.
Having already terminated the contracts of all players in December, PRO owner Doug Schoninger has followed suit with the release of three coaches who had remained league employees until this past week. Ray Egan, Luke Gross, and Sean O’Leary are no longer under contract with PRO. With no players and no coaching staff to call on, this would appear to be another nail in the coffin of the organization that has been marred in controversy since the end of the inaugural season. Schoninger has previously insisted that the league would go on despite cutting all personnel and continues to do so, but recently admitted on social media that PRO’s future was in doubt.
Argentina’s World Ranking
Ireland’s horror show against Wales has all but confirmed Argentina for the Pool of Death. The 22-9 defeat has ramifications for the world rankings. Had the Irish defeated Wales then Argentina would have avoided a pool of death in Japan 2019. Instead Ireland’s inept performance has played into Wales’ hands. Had the Welsh lost they would have required a win over France in Paris to avoid falling to 9th. That position continues to be held by Argentina and little can now be done to change it. The only possibility is for a miracle Welsh win of 15 or more points in Paris.
The Argentine flier was yellow carded this weekend. Playing at home against La Rochelle last year’s champions, Racing 92, were put to the sword. La Rochelle won the fixture in Paris 38-15. Racing 92 was without players involved in the Six Nations yet the club still fielded a star-studded lineup. Imhoff and Manuel Carizza both started as did Dan Carter. French internationals were also involved including Henry Chavancy, Antoine Claassen, Yannick Nyanga, Dimitri Szarzewski, and Teddy Thomas. Make no mistake Racing 92 were badly embarrassed.