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.
There has been plenty of rumors and innuendo and Americas Rugby News can confirm the truth. Legendary Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma will be announced as the new Head Coach of Los Jaguares on Tuesday. He arrives back home in Buenos Aires after a staggering 17 year absence. Playing in France for Narbonne, Castres, and Clermont was followed by coaching at Stade Français and Montpellier. From there he joined the Waratahs in Super Rugby and then Australia’s National side, the Wallabies. He returns to Buenos Aires as the perfect candidate. Fluent in both English and French and with rugby playing and coaching experience flowing through his veins.
Additional rumor and innuendo from Argentina this past week was that Daniel Hourcade was being fired. His replacement? Gonzalo Quesada. While many were jumping for joy, inquiring within Americas Rugby News and other outlets confirmed this is false. Hourcade is officially under contract until the end of 2017. He will take Los Pumas to England, Italy, and Ireland next month. It is great news for Biarritz who acquired the former Top 14 Championship-winning coach this season. The Basque club completed a 36-30 home win over Massy yesterday.
Uruguay’s ‘A’ side hosted and defeated Tonga’s ‘A’ side on Saturday. This was a phenomenal accomplishment. Uruguay excelled in the scrum, the traditional strong-point of Tonga. Indeed the Pacific Islanders teams (the best players from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga) from 2004-2008 were packed with Tongan props and hookers. Consider then that Uruguay used the scrum to set up their win over Tonga on Saturday. Yet it was not entirely the pack who delivered the result. Winger Federico Favaro had an excellent match. The decisive 34-25 win has Uruguay well-placed to look for further success after the World Rugby Nations Cup in June. Uruguay will look to make it two-from-two against the USA on Wednesday.
Colombia romped past Peru on Saturday, winning 50-3 in Lima. The impressive win from Los Tucanes underlines why Colombia will be playing in the new Sudamérica 6 Naciones A in 2018. The visitors held firm in defense, denying Peru opportunities to score tries. Los Tucanes also delivered on attack. Center José Manuel Diosa had a strong afternoon as did No 8 and captain Sebastián Mejía. Tries were also scored by others including Andrés Álvarez, Danny Giraldo, and Brayan Campiño. Colombia next play on October 21, doing so at home against Venezuela.
Sesbastián Cancelliere, Bautista Delguy
Argentina’s best players outside of the Pumas and Jaguares’ set-ups performed wonderfully well on Saturday. The Argentina XV dominated Canada, winning 71-17 in Montevideo. Scrum-half Sesbastián Cancelliere may have earned a call-up for Los Pumas’ November tour to England, Italy and Ireland. A number of others impressed, notably fullback Bautista Delguy. His name is another expected to be on Pumas team sheets overtime. November is also not out of the question.
Chris Wyles, Juan Pablo Socino
The former USA captain led the Americas’ representation this weekend in Europe. Wyles scored a try for Saracens who ran out winners over former London rivals Wasps. The 38-19 win moves Saracens into top spot of the Aviva Premiership. Also showing well this weekend was Juan Pablo Socino. The midfielder crossed for a try though Newcastle lost 34-24 playing away against 2017 Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. The competition takes a two-week break now as attention turns to the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.
Argentina disappointed against Australia. The Wallabies scored five tries to Argentina’s three. They also were better in general play, controlling possession and territory. The backs significantly out-performed Los Pumas’ backline. The best for Argentina were Agustín Creevy, Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lezana, Santiago González Iglesias, and Marcos Kremer. The 20-year-old Kremer demonstrated his level of play being well beyond his age in a tremendous debut start for his country. With Tomás Lavanini dropped for his poor disciplinary record Argentina have a ready alternative.
There will have been little to cheer about in the Canadian dressing room after the ‘A’ side was routed by the Argentina XV by 71-17 in the first round of the Americas Pacific Challenge on Saturday afternoon. The victory was comprehensive in its nature. Canada were beaten in virtually every facet of play, with the disparity in kicking skills particularly evident. A far greater performance is required in game two against Tonga on Wednesday.
USA Red Card
An early second-half red card saw the USA Select XV fall against Samoa ‘A’ on Saturday. The Pacific Islanders played well but it was the carding that ultimately proved decisive in the result. Hanco Germishuys was sent off for punching. Replays shown post-match suggested he may have been hard done by and could avoid further sanctioning. Nevertheless the damage was done and Samoa went on to win decisively 48-26. The USA play again on Wednesday, facing Uruguay.
Another game and another loss for Argentina. From nine matches played in 2017 Argentina have one win and eight losses. Los Pumas also lost nine of their matches in 2016. Combined it is not pretty reading. The team is leaking more tries before than in any other Rugby Championship and is losing by more points with greater regularity. Australia cruised to a 37-20 win in Mendoza on Saturday. Argentina had officially only Tomás Cubelli and Jerónimo de la Fuente missing. In reality, though, Facundo Isa, Juan Imhoff, Juan Figallo, and Patricio Fernández are badly missed.
Javier Ortega Desio
In Mendoza flanker Javier Ortega Desio was out of his depth. Not for the first time in the 2017 Rugby Championship his name appears on the Under list. The reason for this today is his poor tackling against Australia. His missed tackle on Marika Koroibete saw the winger scoring Australia’s opening try. Australia’s third try saw Bernard Foley rolling past Ortega Desio, the flanker falling off a tackle on the flyhalf. Put differently the saves from Facundo Isa or once young Juan Manuel Leguizamón are undeniably missing from Argentina’s efforts at the moment.
A winless Rugby Championship campaign, 15 losses in a row against Tier 1 opposition, and a lack of know-how as to how to turn things around. Hourcade has Argentina in their worst state since Rugby World Cup 1999. In 1997 Los Pumas defeated the Wallabies. Santiago Phelan’s side in 2013 managed two bonus points, Daniel Hourcade’s 2017 finished without any points. The Rugby World Cup 2003 team did not make it outside of their group yet recorded two wins over France that year. Make no mistake Hourcade is directly responsible for the poor form of Argentina. He has been ineffective since 2015 and his stance on European-based players is also related to his team’s shambolic showings.