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.
Paraguay has officially started a High Performance Plan for rugby. The project will see both men’s and women’s players both at senior and youth levels utilize the national Paraguayan Olympic (COP) training center. Paraguayan rugby has received the support of the National Secretary of Sport to use the COP. The COP has a capacity for 80 athletes and will be made available free-of-charge to Paraguay’s rugby players. Paraguay competes in Sudamérica Rugby competitions. The senior men’s side is ranked 7th in the Americas. In South America Los Yakarés are 5th behind Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. The exposure to a High Performance environment has enabled Brazil’s progress. Paraguay is now looking to catch up with the use of COP facilities being a crucial step in the process.
Major League Rugby
A cautious approach is still favored by many for the newest professional rugby competition headed to American shores, but anticipation is building with news trickling out of various sources and potential kickoff now less than a year away. While it’s understood most teams are asking their players to arrive this fall to begin preparations, without a firm date set for opening day it remains to be seen when official pre-season training will begin and rosters will be finalized. The competition will be comprised of nine teams in its initial stage, with standard home-and-away format of 16 games. One number that does appear set in stone is a restriction on ‘foreign’ players on the match-day roster. Only five of the 23 will be allowed to have such a designation. Further reason for proposed Toronto and Vancouver teams to join.
If you have not seen Bautista Delguy play rugby you ought to get around to doing so. The 20-year-old player is rapidly emerging as a future Puma. He has past experience playing for Argentina at the Junior World Championship, for Los Pumas 7’s and for the Argentina XV. He scored two tries against Toulon from fullback in game one. Deluge was not involved in game two. Felipe Contepomi rotted heavily, making ten changes. This gave more players opportunities. This enabled Delguy to take to the field on Saturday for his club, Pucará in the URBA Top 12. He scored a try and went on to land a spectacular long-range drop goal to win the game 19-18 against Regatas.
Toulon exacted revenge on the Argentina XV on Friday. Having lost the opening match in Buenos Aires the Top 14 club turned things around, winning 36-29 in Tucumán. The five tries to four victory included a try from Puma Facundo Isa. Also from northern Argentina, the No 8 walked out on a contract with the UAR in January to return to Toulon. He is on record as declaring his desire to have a different experience at Toulon in comparison that which he did as a 19-year-old. His two-year contract with the club expires in June 2019. Daniel Hourcade has said players must be home a year before then to be considered for the World Cup. All eyes will be on Isa in France and pressure for him and others to play in Japan.
Argentina, Brazil u20’s
History was made this past week in South America. For the first time ever Brazil defeated Chile at u20’s. The junior Brazilian side won 7-5, doing so in Montevideo, Uruguay. The match was the first of two match in the closing day of international competition in the Uruguayan capital. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay have been playing u20’s matches ahead of the Junior World Trophy. Both Chile and Uruguay will compete in the upcoming World Rugby tournament. Lucas Spago’s converted try meant Brazil won the match throughout the contest. Los Teritos took on Los Pumitas in the final. Despite battling the elements the teams were able to produce no shortage of tries. Argentina’s 40-12 victory ensured them the South American junior title.
The 20-times capped US Eagles tighthead prop has signed for the Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership. Born in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the 30-year-old Baumann made his debut for the USA in the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup against Tonga. From there he went on to be selected for Rugby World Cup 2015, playing three matches. Previous forays into professional rugby included a stint with the Denver Stampede in PRO before spending a season with the Wellington Lions in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup. Fellow Eagles Titi Lamositele and Joe Taufete’e also play in the Premiership. The starting front row for the USA at Rugby World Cup 2019 could well be entirely made up of players based in England’s top division.
Mark Anscombe is no longer Head Coach of Canada’s Senior Men’s team. The news was confirmed this past week by Rugby Canada that the 60-year-old New Zealander would not be continuing in the role he has held since being appointed in March of last year. In the 15 months since Canada was won just two of 15 matches including suffering record defeats to Uruguay, Brazil, Romania, and most recently the USA, dropping to an all-time low of 23 on the official World Rugby Rankings. Most pressingly Canada failed to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in the America 1 series against the US Eagles last month, the first time Canada has not achieved that target in the modern qualifying process. Anscombe has exited by slamming the administration, specifically General Manager, Jim Dixon.
One player missing from Anscombe’s team was Jebb Sinclair. The New Brunswick forward has now ended his time with London Irish. After six seasons with the club he is heading back to Canadian shores to take up a coaching position with the Meraloma rugby club in Vancouver while he considers his playing future. Citing ‘irregularities’, Sinclair says a contractual dispute with the club has seen him depart half-way through a two-year renewal signed in January 2016. After receiving offers from several other clubs he has instead opted to break away from the professional game for the time being. Sinclair’s most recent appearance for Canada was against Romania at the 2015 World Cup. Injury saw him ruled out of international contention in 2016 and he declined selection to the recent World Cup Qualifying series against the USA for personal reasons.
New Zealand and Sonny Bill Williams
Make no bones about it what New Zealand has done to get Sonny Bill Williams free for the Rugby Championship opener is non-sporting. The All Blacks center was to miss the test match against Australia in Sydney but the NZRU has now legally maneuvered its way to getting the star play freed. 40 minute training runs against Counties Manukau and Taranaki were argued as counting as games by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). An independent committee agreed, overruling the ban and baffling World Rugby in the process. World Rugby Vice Chairman Agustín Pichot slammed the decision as he ought to. A training run is in no way comparable to a Rugby Championship test match.
Fijian Adult Wallabies
The 2017 Rugby Championship is just around the corner. Americas Rugby News has looked into the rosters for the competition and identified which players were born abroad and how they qualify for their respective countries. Argentina has no foreign-born players, South Africa has 2, New Zealand has 7 while Australia has 12. In many instances players moved with their families as children. Australian wingers Henry Speight and Marika Koroibete moved as adults. Prior to becoming Wallabies Speight played u20’s for Fiji and Koroibete played rugby league for his native country.