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.
Chile is to play in a Historic Four match tour in November. Los Cóndores’ incorporation into international activity sees the Chileans’ dream turning into reality. Chile will play three test matches in Asia and one in Europe. The tour will begin in Hong Kong where Los Cóndores are to play matches on November 10, 14, and 18. The games are to be a part of a special World Rugby tournament also involving Hong Kong, Kenya and Russia. After playing matches against all three, Los Cóndores will fly to Frankfurt where they will play a test match against Germany. Never before have Los Cóndores had such an opportunity.
Canada has their new Head Coach, and his name is Kingsley Jones. The 48-year-old leaves his post with the Welsh Rugby Union that saw him in charge of the Exiles program to instead move to North America. Jones had most recently been head coach at the Dragons of the Guinness Pro 12 (now 14), who he took over in 2014 after one year as an assistant. Jones takes over a Canadian team desperately short of form and for the first time forced to pursue World Cup qualification as the Americas 2 representative. Under departing coach Mark Anscombe they won just two from 14 matches – drawing once – and only one of 11 during 2015 including a whitewash at the 2015 World Cup under then-coach Kieran Crowley. His first match in charge will a friendly against the New Zealand Māori, to be played at BC Place in Vancouver on November 3.
Major League Rugby
News on America’s newest professional rugby competition is heating up. While kickoff is not due until the Spring of 2018 and the league itself is yet to reveal much of its structure, information released from elsewhere is increasing steadily. Multiple sources have now confirmed that San Diego will join Major League Rugby for its inaugural season in 2018. It’s welcome news for the California rugby community, who had been left out of the initial nine-team roster. That list now looks to have been reduced to eight teams. With San Diego joining up it’s Minneapolis that has dropped out, though it appears to be a migration with some backers involved with the Minneapolis bid. San Diego was the home of the Breakers during the 2016 PRO Rugby season, one of three California-based franchises. The other two cities – San Francisco and Sacramento – have interested parties but neither will be involved in 2018.
A fantastic performance from the Northern English side saw a 33-32 victory away to Bath. It underlined the staggering progress that has been made from the club during the off-season. Part of the progress is down to recruitment in recent seasons. Among the new-recuits this season is DTH van der Merwe. Having won the Guinness Pro 14 with both the Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets the Canadian has now taken his form to England. He scored in his Newcastle Falcons debut this past weekend. Santiago Socino also played well, arguable putting in his break-out performance.
Facundo Isa and Facundo Bosch
Across in France and there were also players impressing from the Americas. Two players off-limits to Los Pumas scored tries in the Top 14. Facundo Isa had a storming match for Toulon, gaining yards with ease, assisting in a try and scoring one of his own. Without a shadow of doubt he is Argentina’s best player in the world today. The country’s third choice hooker is Facundo Bosch. With a lack of opportunities at Jaguares he left for Agen. On Saturday he scored his second try of the season.
USA November Internationals
In November the USA Eagles will play away against Germany and Georgia. No match against a third team has been confirmed. Will it be against Japan in Europe on November 11? Potentially, yes. Yet with the clock ticking and no fixture confirmed for that weekend it is concerning. The USA requires three tests in November just like all other Tier 2 nations. From the Americas Argentina, Brazil and Canada each have three while Chile has four. Uruguay also falls short with two confirmed. Los Teros’, though, are to play away against Namibia. Finding a third test in Africa at that point in time is simply not possible. Kenya, for instance, will be in Asia.
Benjamín Urdapilleta and Juan Imhoff
Both Benjamín Urdapilleta and Juan Imhoff were yellow carded this past weekend. Urdapilleta was a replacement fly half for Castres while Imhoff played out of position at fullback for Racing 92. The decision to play a star winger in an unfamiliar position was questionable. His yellow card was for jumping and making contact while in the air. The right decision. Urdapilleta’s was that of a frustrated player going beyond the laws. The way Castres are playing the team cannot afford such behavior.
Pumas legend Mauricio Reggiardo is a longterm prospect to have a leading position coaching in Argentina. Both Los Pumas or Los Jaguares are possibilities. As a player he featured in multiple Rugby World Cups and had a stellar career playing abroad. As a coach he has enjoyed success in France. Thus far he has coached Mazamet, Castres, Albi and now Agen. Currently the Forwards Coach of Agen the club needs to improve. With 1 win and 4 losses thus far the season has not started ideally for Agen.
Argentina’s third year involved in Super Rugby will be different to the first two. The competition has downsized from 18 to 15 teams. South Africa has gone from having six to four and Australia from five to four. This has not brought with it advantages for the Argentine franchise. Indeed the 2018 season looks vastly similar to the 2017. Los Jaguares will again debut in South Africa, playing in rounds one and two against the Stormers and Lions, South Africa’s two leading sides. An additional two match tour to South Africa will occur later with Los Jaguares facing the Bulls and Sharks. The Argentine side will also play a four-match away tour in Oceania.
Money at the forefront of Rugby World Cup 2023
Money not credibility is at the forefront of Rugby World Cup 2023 decision-making. France, Ireland and South Africa are bidding. Italy pulled-out of competing against them. The decision is likely currently very satisfying in Italy. Why? Because reports underline that France is all but certain to secure the rights. Ireland 2023 is technically almost certainly in third place. With Japan 2019 set to be less of a financial return than what World Rugby desires, the 2023 tournament looms as highly likely to go to where the return will be the highest. France is guaranteeing a sum of more than £300m, including hospitality income. Similar to New Zealand 2011 seeing England 2015 green lighted Japan 2019 it set to see history repeated with France 2023 the benefactor. In terms of the Americas what this means is that Argentina’s decision to not bid and to focus on 2027 is shrewd.