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.
Canadian Rugby Hall of Fame
The first inductees into the newly-created Canadian Rugby Hall of Fame were presented in the annual Awards Dinner in Vancouver. Five players and two builders were entered in the class of 2017. The Hall of Fame will be housed in the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford, currently under construction and due to be opened in September 2017. Charron is one of five inducted in the players category along with contemporaries Rod Snow and Gareth Rees, world class lock Ro Hindson, and women’s star Gillian Florence. Entered in the builders category were Newfoundland legend Mike Luke and Canada’s first union president Bob Spray.
One of the nine clubs set to take part in the new Major League Rugby competition starting in 2018 has started to tease fans with snippets of information via its Facebook page. The Houston Strikers posted a model image of a proposed 11,000 seat stadium – with two additional rugby-specific fields adjacent the stadium – as well as a logo. Also present is a ‘business plan’ that indicates their intention to fund local mini rugby programs, four high school teams, and an under 20 side while supporting local clubs and colleges. While we are still likely more than a year away from kickoff, the signs certainly indicate that plans are full steam ahead for the newest professional rugby startup in the USA.
Rugby Canada 2016 Awards
A total of 14 awards were handed out at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. Evan Olmstead took home the Senior Men’s Player of the Year award and Laura Russell took home the top prize for the Senior Women. Sevens honours went to Nathan Hirayama and Olympic star Kayla Moleschi. Another Olympic attendee, referee Rose LaBrèche, was a repeat winner of top Canadian Match Official. Young Player awards went to Sophie de Goede and Conor Keys, while this year’s top coaches were John Daggett and Jen Boyd. Newfoundland union secretary Roxanne Butler was named Volunteer of the Year. Peer-voted awards went to Julianne Zussman and Ray Barkwill, and a special Chairman’s Award going to New Brunswick’s Malcolm MacAfee for more than four decades of contributions to Canadian rugby.
Los ‘Moyano’ Jaguares
Los Jaguares top the Africa Super Rugby conference. After four rounds the Argentine franchise has 14 competition points. Their home win over the Cheetahs on Saturday was on the back of a superb hat-trick from Ramiro Moyano. The 41-14 victory sees Los Jaguares 3-1 up this season. Moyano crossed for two first half tries and completed his hat-trick in the second. His performance sees him in third place with 10 line breaks in Super Rugby this season, two fewer than Julian Savea and Ngani Laumape of the Hurricanes. Moyano is also tied for third spot on the try-scoring list with four.
Another outstanding performance from Matera put Los Jaguares regularly over the gain line. The powerful flanker worked perfectly in tandem with Tomás Lezana, a combination that may well become the top option for Los Pumas in 2017. After four rounds of Super Rugby, Matera leads the charts with 60 carries made, taking over the lead carrying role in the absence of Facundo Isa. Joaquín Tuculet comes in third with 55. Matera is also high on the list for offloads with nine, good enough for third place alongside midfielder Jerónimo de la Fuente.
Martín Bustos Moyano
Bayonne are down but are not yet out. The club remains bottom of the Top 14 though it did close the gap to 12th, the position one must be to avoid relegation. Bayonne put on a fine performance on Saturday. Leading the way from fullback was Martín Bustos Moyano. The former Puma kicked 14 points in what was a 24-20 win over Bordeaux. More results are needed or Bayonne will be relegated. Stade Français did not play this weekend due to a player’s strike surrounding the now-annulled merger with Racing 92.
While Los Jaguares have been achieving results, the team’s resources are being tested. Injuries sustained in 2016 see Emiliano Boffelli, Tomás Lavanini, and Manuel Montero yet to play this year. This past week center Matías Moroni was ruled out until April with a hand injury. Forwards Cristian Bartoloni and Guido Petti both also missed the game, being pulled from training due to minor complaints. Flyhalf Joaquín Díaz Bonilla is yet to return to contract training after suffering a knock to his head in the opening round match against the Southern Kings. Santiago Cordero was forced off early against the Cheetahs but should be fine to play against the Reds in Round 5.
Leading Argentine flyhalf Nico Sánchez missed Saturday’s match through suspension. A SANZAAR Judicial Committee hearing determined that the Jaguares No 10 contravened Law 10.4(g) dangerous charging, after he was cited playing against the Lions in Round 3. Sánchez is now free to return to Jaguares duty. He will be available to face the Reds this coming weekend.
Racing 92 and Stade Français
A merger to form a Super Ile-de-France club was confirmed and then scraped in less than a week. The shock announcement on Monday came through and was not received well. Racing 92 and Stade Français were officially merged into one. Half of the players would be cut. This resulted in a player revolt and on Sunday the merger was called off. Stade Français will continue playing at the modern Stade Jean Bouin while Racing 92 await the opening of their new Arena 92. On the plus side this may yet see Juan Imhoff and Manuel Carizza returning home and back in Pumas colors.
It is doomsday for Los Pumas. Confirmation has been made that Argentina will play in the ‘Pool of Death’ at RWC 2019. Results from the Six Nations did not go Argentina’s way which sees the South Americans remaining 9th in the world. Losses to each of Wales, Scotland, and England in November saw the Pumas fall in the rankings. The results came on the back of a decision by the UAR to block the selection of players based in Europe. Argentina will now face one of New Zealand, England, Australia and Ireland in pool play, as well as one of Scotland, France, South Africa, and Wales. The draw will be made on May 10.