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.
The Eagles have made history. For the first time they have qualified for the Rugby World Cup as the ‘Americas 1’ representative after putting the sword to Canada in San Diego by a score of 52-16. Aside from a brief purple patch for Canada immediately before and after half-time it was as comprehensive a victory as one could hope to find. Eight tries in all to only one for the Canadians told the story as record-setting captain Todd Clever got the send-off he was hoping for in his final test match. Head Coach John Mitchell says goodbye to the Eagles in ideal fashion.
Recruitment from European clubs this past week saw four Argentine players signing for European clubs. Flanker Guido Volpi signed for Narbonne to play in the French Pro d2. Joel Sclavi will be playing in the same competition for Charente. He has made the move from Top 14 side Pau. A third player joining the French second division is Bernard Reggiardo. He joins Aurillac from the Castres espoirs. His father is legendary Puma, Mauricio Reggiardo. Moving from Toulon to Oyonnax is Axel Müller. The 2016 Olympian remains a possible World Cup 2019 Puma.
The World Cup scrumhalf has departed France and returned home to Uruguay. After four years playing for Stade Montois in the Pro D2, the 26-year-old is now to reunite with his beloved Carrasco Polo club. Ormaechea arrived in Mont-de-Marsan from Carrasco Polo in 2013. He went on to play 82 French second division matches for the club. This past season he made 20 appearances. In 2015 he played in all four of Uruguay’s World Cup matches, starting all four and scoring a try against Fiji. In doing so he followed in his father’s footsteps. Diego Ormaechea scored against Spain in Rugby World Cup 1999. Agustín Ormaechea is to now be fully available for Uruguay and the Uruguay XV. This is ideal as the country prepares to face Canada in the ‘Americas 2’ qualifiers in early 2018.
Hindú and Tala
The 2017 ICBC Nacional de Clubes A Final will be played between Hindú and Tala. The Buenos Aires vs Córdoba final was determined on Saturday. Tala defeated San Luis por 47-35 while Hindú overcame Belgrano 45-31. The match was noteworthy due to the return of Santiago Fernández. Having played in France since 2010 he returned to play his first match for the Elephants this decade. The 31-year-old may yet have the opportunity to add to his 32 caps for Los Pumas.
Desterro vs Poli
One of the great Brazilian Super 8 matches took place this weekend. Florianopolis club Desterro hosted São Paulo side Poli. Desterro has been Brazil’s best club in the first half of they year. Poli, meanwhile, are the reigning São Paulo state champions. The game was an epic contest, showcasing running rugby. The 10-try spectacle was won 39-35 by Desterro, with winger Lucas Muller scoring a double.
Is this the lowest point in Canada’s men’s XVs history? In terms of results it certainly is. For the first time in history Canada has not qualified for the World Cup ahead of the USA. Saturday’s humbling defeat to the Eagles was a far cry from the standards of four years ago and even a drop-off from last week’s draw in Hamilton. After sustaining heavy criticism for a poor Americas Rugby Championship campaign, Rugby Canada asked for a chance to rebound in the qualifying series. They were handed their stay of execution by the Canadian rugby community but the results have not been delivered. Action in now required to restore confidence and halt the slide.
Prematch Canada Woes
Things could not have gone worse in the build-up for Canada as they lost their two most potent attacking players in Taylor Paris and DTH van der Merwe just hours before kickoff, to illness and injury respectively. Dan Moor and Nick Blevins stepped into the starting lineup but the dip in confidence from the absence of the two stars was palpable. Their unavailability added to the absence of Matt Evans, Jeff Hassler, Conor Trainor, Jebb Sinclair, and Jamie Cudmore left Canada exposed. The USA took full advantage despite missing several top players of their own.
It was a week of mourning for the rugby world with the sudden passing of Ric Suggitt. Affectionately known as ‘Sluggo’, the 58-year-old influenced a generation of top talent as one of the most prolific coaches in the Americas. Suggitt achieved the unique distinction of coaching both Canada and USA national sides. The proud Edmonton, Alberta, native began his high performance experience with the Prairie Fire in the now-defunct Canadian Super League, then becoming a youth development officer for Trinidad & Tobago. He went on to be Head Coach of both the Canadian women’s and men’s teams. He was hired by USA Rugby to head up the Women’s Eagles in January 2010 and held the post for nearly six years, departing just one year out from the Olympics to take over the University of Lethbridge women’s program, a position that would be his last.
Los Jaguares sank to a new low on Friday, losing to the Kings in Buenos Aires. The Argentine side fell 31-30 against one of the worst two of South Africa’s six Super Rugby franchises. The defeat was the seventh in the last eight rounds for franchise. The result was the end of a terrible few days for Head coach Raúl Pérez. In the days leading in to the match his future was clouded with Mario Ledesma reportedly in the eyes of the UAR to replace him. This is not happening though Pérez will be stood down regardless. With a roster packed with test players, Pérez was unable to deliver a home win. Following on from dour performances against the Brumbies and Western Force among others it is now officially crisis point for Argentine rugby.
History was made with Freitas signing for Los Jaguares this year. It saw the first ever Uruguayan contracted to Super Rugby. As such he became the first non-Argentine to play for Los Jaguares. The season has two remaining matches. Los Jaguares will play in Australia against the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels. They will do so without Freitas. The winger turns 24 today and does so without playing one match of Super Rugby. Freitas has thereby gone through the entire season without playing Super Rugby at all.