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.
Los Pumas fell 39-22 to New Zealand on Saturday. The defeat saw a late fury from the All Blacks who overturned a second half 22-15 deficit. The performance was marked improvement from Argentina. Unlike against South Africa there were players performing at the required level. Emiliano Boffelli, Agustín Creevy, Tomás Cubelli, Benjamín Macome and Guido Petti were the pick of the players. Should Argentina play at the same level of higher in remaining matches the prospects of a victory will be greatly enhanced.
Costa Rica, Guatemala
The champions and runners-up of the 2017 South American C Championship are set to benefit like never before. Restructuring to the South American A, B and C Championships for 2018 means that Costa Rica and Guatemala are to play in the rebranded Sudamerica 4 Naciones B. They will join Peru and Venezuela, thereby playing outside of Central America.
The Sudamerica 4 Naciones C in 2018 is set to include Honduras. The Central American republic will be newcomers to international competition. They are to join Nicaragua, Panama and the returning El Salvador in the competition. It is a deserved reward for Honduras. Hard work has seen more clubs opening in the country and Sudamerica Rugby accepted the country as an associate member in May. Next year will now see the national men’s side in official competition.
Having started with an underwhelming performance against Portugal, Uruguay bounced back to win the three remaining matches in the Junior World Trophy. A superb win over Fiji was followed up by a hammering of Hong Kong. Based on other results this saw Uruguay into the Bronze Final. Los Teritos would not disappoint, running out comprehensive winners over Namibia by 34-12. The Teritos played some of the tournament’s best rugby and can be very proud of their achievements.
It was also a landmark tournament for Chile, who first shocked Canada and then edged Fiji on Sunday to finish in 5th place overall. The confidence gained by those young players can only benefit the national side who are in need of an injection of youth to take the next step. Chile’s commitment to defense despite being physically smaller than most of their opponents was impressive. It seems likely that a few standouts such as captain Alfonso Escobar will soon be integrated into the senior Cóndores training group.
Raptors, Merlins, whatever their name they welcomed the Ontario Arrows to the rugby scene with a resounding 41-7 beating at Infinity Park on Saturday. The result is a reversal of the loss Glendale suffered at the hands of Ontario at Sherwood Forest Park in May. With the arrival of Major League Rugby just around the corner fans got a glimpse of the firepower available to the colossal Coloradans, whose depth is also impressive given that names like Ben Tarr, Logan Collins, and Brian Wanless were absent. More importantly the match served as a proof-of-concept for what might evolve into an elite North American domestic competition, and that is truly exciting even if we have to wait another 18 months to get there.
Martín Landajo is now Argentina’s most capped scrumhalf. The 29-year-old overtook Agustín Pichot on Saturday, earning his 72nd cap. Landajo made his test debut in November 2008. He did so against Chile as one of nine debutants. His next test cap would come against Uruguay in May 2010, the match also seeing his earn his first test start. Following appearances against Brazil, Chile and Uruguay in 2012 Landajo broke into the senior roster. He would play June internationals against Italy and France and named in the squad for the inaugural Rugby Championship. Since then he has played in every test match for Los Pumas.
The upcoming South American B Championship will be a Three-Team tournament. Colombia, Peru and Venezuela are the competitors. Ecuador is to miss out due to the country having been suspended by Sudamérica Rugby. A return for 2018 is out of the question. Instead Ecuador could play one division lower, in the Sudamericano 4 Naciones C. Issues have been so bad that the Federación Ecuatoriano de Rugby (FER) may yet face suspension.
The World Rugby u20 Trophy was not kind to Canada. The North American representatives finished the tournament in 7th place with just one win from four. The 38-0 result over Hong Kong on Sunday showed some of what the team was capable of but against clearly overwhelmed competition. A rebuilding of the entire men’s program is required if Canada are to avoid sliding further into international obscurity.
Castres fell at home to Montpellier on Saturday. They did so by a scoreline of 22-17. Ruan Pienaar kicked a perfect 6 goals from 6 attempts for the visitors. Castres’ kickers were not so successful with 11 kickable points failing to be scored. Responsible for 9 of these was Benjamín Urdapilleta. Not a great week for the former Pumas flyhalf.
Javier Ortega Desio
A bad performance from Javier Ortega Desio saw the Pumas flanker making just two carries against New Zealand. His game overall was an unimpressive performance. This included needlessly knocking-on from a kickoff that did not go 10 meters. This gave New Zealand a scrum on Argentina’s 10 meter line. Had he not played at the ball then it would have been a Pumas scrum on halfway. Errors at lineout time from Desio Ortega saw two knock-ons. Guido Petti and Matías Alemanno were far more reliable in the air.
Ramiro Herrera, Juan Martín Hernández
A double blow for Los Pumas saw Juan Martín Hernández and Ramiro Herrera missing out on facing New Zealand. This was the case despite both having traveled to New Zealand with the roster and having been training to play. The availability of both players for the upcoming match against Australia is currently being monitored. Daniel Hourcade is taking precautions with Herrera. Indeed, the uncapped Felipe Arregui has joined the squad in Canberra.