With the international season upon us our team this week is selected entirely from the three big games on the weekend. Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier win over Canada did not count towards the Americas Rugby Championship and as such this is not an entirely ‘ARC’ weekly XV, but regular service in that regard will resume next week. Of note is that not one Argentine player makes our team this week, a very rare occurrence indeed! Otherwise all five senior sides are represented, a reflection of competitive nature of all three matches.
1 – Titi Lamositele (USA) Welcome back! After more than a year away from the Eagles jersey the Premiership prop returned with a bang. Made up for his first half sin-binning with a superb showing in the scrum, completely dominating his opposite and more than earning his spot in the loose.
2 – Joe Taufete’e (USA) The centerpiece of a fully professional Eagles front row that shocked their Argentine opponents. Big Joe also showed up prominently in the loose with several strong carries and a couple sticks in defense.
3 – Jardel Vettorato (Brazil) Quite possibly his best ever game for his country. The 32-year-old was outstanding, holding up the scrum against a traditionally formidable Chilean tight five. In the loose he cleaned up scrappy possession and barreled into heavy traffic, one carry resulting in a vital try.
4 – Ignacio Dotti (Uruguay) Is there a player who has benefited more from the new High Performance unit at Charrúa? Dotti has been in magnificent form to start the year, scoring in all three of his matches. His partnership with a Teros legend has set the platform for the historic series win.
5 – Rodrigo Capó Ortega (Uruguay) Signed off on his international return – for now – in style with another forceful effort in the engine room. Had numerous carries to keep his team on the front foot and was prominent in the wars once again. Impressing for the USA was Nick Civetta while his opposite, Ignacio Larrague, was the best of a disappointing Argentina XV.
6 – Lucas Rumball (Canada) Produced his best game at representative level since June 2016. Receiving a late call to start the match when Josh Larsen was ruled out before kickoff, he reveled in his return to his most effective position on the blindside. Superb defensively, combative at the breakdown, and fought through tackles with ball in hand.
7 – Tony Lamborn (USA) Thoroughly enjoyed his match against a much-fancied Argentine loose forward trio. Outplayed his opposite with a typical all-round performance. Tackled with menace and showed great determination to wrestle his way to the try-line when it looked as though nothing was on.
8 – Hanco Germishuys (USA) The best player wearing No8 on the weekend was Chile’s venerable Benjamín Soto, but any time an individual performance inspires its own hashtag there have to be exceptions made. Germishuys won’t be awarded a test cap for the weekend (a topic for another article…) but it was undoubtedly his best senior match for his country in his young career. A thunderous effort on both sides of the ball, finished off with a match-saving tackle on Rodrigo Bruni.
9 – Agustín Ormaechea (Uruguay) Underlining the depth now present in Uruguayan rugby, when rising star Santiago Arata went off in the first quarter there was no panic whatsoever from Los Teros. In fact the lifted their game with the arrival of Ormaechea. His quick thinking put Canada on the back foot and created the first try for Dotti. Laurent Bourda-Couhet played well for Brazil though his box kicking needs significant improvement.
10 – Josh Reeves (Brazil) Guilty of an horrendous error that cost his team seven points, we will forgive Reeves his moment of madness given his otherwise classy performance. At last found the right balance between his kicking and passing game, even taking the ball to the line to keep the defense honest. Sent over a penalty kick from beyond halfway and pinned the Cóndores in their own end with several raking tactical strikes.
11 – Nicolás Freitas (Uruguay) Observers were left wondering why Freitas was not utilized by the Jaguares last year after another storming performance for Los Teros. Smashed through tackles and beat an incredible eight defenders on nearly a dozen carries. One of several amateurs in the Uruguayan team who are professional caliber.
12 – Andrés Vilaseca (Uruguay) Two opportunist scores, one showing his footballing skills with a kick ahead and regather, and another picking up a loose pass to seal another famous victory for Los Teros. Found the line with his reliable left boot on several penalty clearances. An underrated player who always delivers for his country.
13 – Felipe Sancery (Brazil) Didn’t quite have the game-breaking performance that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the Sancery twins but gave the Tupis what was required. Ran hard at the line and got the team back to the gainline on more than one occasion despite receiving the ball well behind it. Also defended well and distributed when able to.
14 – DTH van der Merwe (Canada) Played on the left wing and was on the spot to score two tries, the second of which might have earned a win had the conversion been kicked correctly. One of a small number of Canadians who lived up to their billing over the 160+ minutes of the series.
15 – Tomás Ianiszewski (Chile) Forced to cover a huge amount of ground thanks to the pinpoint kicking of Reeves, the slightly-built fullback responded with another excellent performance. Returned fire with several stunning clearance kicks and counter-attacked when the chances presented themselves. Created the penalty try with a lovely kick ahead and converted the only shot at goal that he was given.