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.
2018 South American A Championship
The South American A Championship is to Expand in 2018. The reformed competition will be an increase to a South American Six Nations Championship. Newcomers Colombia are to participate for the first time. Americas Rugby News was informed that the decision came based on Colombia’s impressive results in the South American B Championship. Having won three straight titles Colombia has been deemed ready to make the step up to the elite level in South America. The inclusion of Colombia in the new South American Six Nations tournament will be alongside Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Argentina XV. The competition will take place in the month of May.
Americas Rugby Championship ‘B’
The Americas Rugby Championship ‘B’ is to begin in 2018. The new soon, to be confirmed, competition will be one tier below that of the Americas Rugby Championship, an annual competition involving the Top 6 countries from the Americas. Participating in the inaugural competition are to be Colombia, Paraguay, Mexico and possibly Trinidad & Tobago. The Four Nations competition will have two from each of Sudamérica Rugby and Americas Rugby North. Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago played separately in the recent Rugby Americas North Championship, competing in the North and South zones respectively.
USA Women’s Eagles
The USA are to play in the Semi Finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup. They learned their fate after France defeated Ireland by 21-5 in the final game of the pool stages in Dublin on Wednesday evening. It marks the first time the Eagles have reached the final four since 1998, when they finished runners-up to New Zealand in their third successive World Cup final. Despite dropping their final pool match against England earlier in the day their total of 11 competition points, boosted by achieving the four-try bonus in each game, assured them of qualifying for the Semi Finals as the best runner-up of the three pools. Canada fell to heavy defeat against New Zealand to drop out of contention in the first of six games on Wednesday.
Djustice Sears-Duru has a new home. Following his release from the Glasgow Warriors at the end of the 2016-17 season, the 23-year-old Canadian prop has joined Greene King IPA Championship club Ealing Trailfinders. Sears-Duru’s first action with the club came on Saturday in a pre-season tilt against Welsh Premiership side Merthyr. In 2017 he has established himself as first choice Loose Head for Canada in the absence of injured Hubert Buydens, fending off the challenge of provincial stalwarts Rob Brouwer and Anthony Luca. Now with 30 caps to his name, Sears-Duru will look to make an impact in England’s second division, a league notorious for strong forward play.
It was a special moment for the BC Bears at Calgary Rugby Park on Saturday evening as they defeated the Ontario Blues by the narrowest of margins, coming out on the right side of a 30-29 result to claim the 2017 Canadian Rugby Championship title. It’s the first time the Bears have lifted the MacTier Cup since the competition’s inaugural season in 2009. The new coaching team of Tony Healy and Phil Mack has paid off with the duo able to piece together a winning team despite the absence of several international players who were expected to take part. It’s hard to pick out stars from the side over their four matches, because there weren’t many. It was very much a team effort that got the job done.
In a phenomenally significant move for Mexico, Miguel Carner was elected as Rugby Americas North President. The Mexican will be the head of Rugby Americas North on a four year term. Carter will take up the new position having previously been Rugby Americas North Treasurer. The election of Carner comes at a time in which Mexico is experiencing sustained grow. Growing player numbers and improvement from international sides see Mexico considered as an overall priority of World Rugby.
Argentina was outclassed in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, falling 37-15 to South Africa. The heavy defeat included tries to Courtnall Skosan, Raymond Rhule, Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph Du Toit. Los Pumas managed two from Martin Landajo and Emiliano Boffelli. South Africa thoroughly deserved the win. The impressive performance had Argentina defending for the vast majority of the opening half and unable to have a sufficient offensive impact. A humiliated Pumas scrum did not add to the complications. Los Pumas now need an immediate response in Salta this coming Saturday. If they fail to play beyond their best a second loss is all but a foregone conclusion.
Canada fell heavily to New Zealand in the Women’s Rugby World Cup on Wednesday. The Black Fearns produced a stunning performance at Billings Park on Wednesday as they gave Canada a lesson in firepower to the tune of 48-5. A 29-0 opening half erased any thoughts of a Canadian victory, or even hopes of the bonus point that Canada so desperately needed to reach the Semi Finals. At every turn New Zealand were simply the better side. Canadian errors compounded the matter and seemingly every mistake was punished in devastating fashion. Canada’s best possible finish is now 5th place.
Pumas Head Coach Daniel Hourcade noted “I think that South Africa were superior, had a notable dominance which, in the second half, was reflected in the result.” He also pointed out that “We need to urgently improve the scrum. We cannot have five penalties and a free-kick against us. From there came points or it took is back into our territory or denied us of possession.” What he failed to point out is that Argentina’s best scrummagers play their rugby in Lyon and Saracens and thereby cannot be selected. The policy of denying those based in Europe of playing for Los Pumas can surely not continue on. Argentina has now lost ten games in-a-row against Tier 1 opposition and is ranked below Fiji in the World Rankings. Time for a reality check Argentina.
Leonardo Senatore, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Adding to the scrum woes is the loss of senior forwards Leonardo Senatore and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. The former left the field injured in just the 13th minute, leaving flanker Tomás Lezana to play out the duration of the match at No 8. Senatore injured his knee and will not be fit for three weeks. Tetaz Chaparro was taken-off after a second half knock with winger Raymond Rhule. The incident saw the Puma suffer a concussion with Lucas Noguera Paz replacing him. Tetaz Chaparro is now undergoing tests in Buenos Aires to determine his availability for Salta. In all likelihood Noguera Paz will play Loose Head with Santiago García Botta covering from the bench.
Montevideo club rivals Carrasco Polo and Old Boys squared-off on Saturday. Their first of two Uruguayo de Clubes Quarter Finals saw the lower ranked Old Boys playing at home. Old Boys finished the regular season in 7th while Carrasco Polo did so in 7th. Expecting a win, Carrasco Polo were instead badly beaten. The 25-3 loss sees Old Boys now placed as firm favorites to advance to the Semi Finals. The rematch will see Carrasco Polo at home this coming Saturday.
São José Rugby
From bad to worse for São José Rugby. The former giants of Brazilian rugby remain winless in the Super 8 and sit rock-bottom of the table. The team as a 0-1-5 record from 6 matches and has just 3 competition points. The 7th placed SPAC has 11. On Saturday São Jose played away to Farrapos in Bento Gonçãlves, Rio Grande do Sul. The 43-20 defeat extends the misery facing São José Rugby. Farrapos sit in 3rd position behind Jacareí and Pasteur.
Canadian Rugby Championship Format
There were some spectacular moments during the week-long event in Calgary but at the finish it only confirmed what we already knew. The competition in its current format must go. Playing three matches in seven days is a difficult ask for a high school student. At representative level it is suicide. The players suffered and their performance dropped with it. It’s not clear what proposals are on the table but the players deserve better. Canadian rugby needs better. The CRC’s future hangs in the balance.