In the year 2017 there were mixed results from the Americas. Some teams struggled badly, while others reached new heights. This category is not limited to international sides, however, with a handful of domestic teams standing out among their peers and earning consideration.
In Canada it was the BC Bears who awoke from hibernation to win their first Canadian Rugby Championship since 2009. UBC took home two titles winning first the Rounsefell Cup and then the McTavish Trophy in the first ever Canadian Men’s University Championship. The Ottawa Gee-Gees won their first ever USports title in the frozen tundra at Lethbridge.
Austin Huns claimed a Men’s Division 1 title in the USA, with many of their players set to make the jump to Major League Rugby this year. The UCal Golden Bears won their fifth straight Men’s Collegiate title, and Life were back-to-back Women’s champions over a strong Lindenwood side.
In South America Hindú were champions of Argentina for a third consecutive year, and Old Christians were tops in Uruguay. Jacareí won the Brazilian Super 8 with Farrapos doing well to make the final, and in Chile it was Old Boys who rose to the top.
The Rugby Americas North Championship gave us another thrilling year of action. Guyana defeated Trinidad & Tobago, and the Cayman Islands won a handsome upset over Mexico though it was ultimately USA South who took the prize.
Perhaps the most impressive domestic team of the year was the Brantford Harlequins. The Ontario side claimed a second consecutive McCormick Cup title as provincial champions and did so in emphatic fashion, defeating Balmy Beach by 40-27 in the final. A draw with London Scottish in Marshall Premiership action denied them a perfect season and they are now undefeated in an incredible 33 competitive matches dating back to the beginning of the 2016 season.
Rising from the ashes in 2017 was the Canadian Men’s Sevens team. While the USA were the highest ranking Americas side on the circuit, it was Canada who took the plaudits with their stunning tournament result in Singapore, their first ever HSBC Sevens Series Cup Final victory. From a team that looked down and out following their disappointment at missing out on the Olympics they have come on leaps and bounds and now have their eyes fixed on Tokyo 2020.
The USA Women’s Eagles XVs were overachievers at the World Cup in Ireland. Prior to the tournament few gave them a shot at success and many questioned whether the team’s preparations were good enough. Bonus-point wins over Italy and Spain in the pool stage saw them qualifying for the Semi Finals, and while the ‘luck of the draw’ may have helped their cause there is no question they performed admirably under pressure. A 4th place finish overall was a fine result for the team.
Meanwhile the USA Men’s Eagles XVs had an exceptional season. A remarkable comeback against the Argentina XV to snatch a draw sealed their first ever Americas Rugby Championship title. A couple uninspired performances against Ireland and Georgia in June threatened to derail them and then came the draw against Canada in Hamilton. They pulled up their socks to win by a landslide in San Diego and qualify for the World Cup as Americas 1 representatives for the first time. A win over Georgia in Tbilisi might have put them over the top but it wasn’t to be, losing by a single point to end the year.
What a year it was for Uruguay’s Men’s XVs. Los Teros finished third in the ARC, defeating Canada in Maldonado and just narrowly losing out to the USA in San Antonio. Their match against the Argentina XV was by far their worst performance of the year but they would redeem themselves with a very competitive performance in the Sudamérica Rugby Cup Final that saw them lose out by a single score, their first defeat after a run of nine straight victories. That stretch included a perfect three-for-three to claim their first ever World Rugby Nations Cup title.
To cap off their year they took both games on Namibian soil in November, another first for Los Teros. This coming year could be even bigger if they can rise to the challenge against Canada in the Americas 2 World Cup Qualifiers later this month. Our 2017 ARN Team of the Year is the Uruguay Men’s XVs.