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.
Uruguay did not play well in São Paulo. Missing several leading players and then having to front up against Brazil at Pacaembu on five days rest after the celebrations in Montevideo was a tough ask. Los Teros were frustrated throughout the opening half but showed character to recover from a 15-point halftime deficit to earn the victory. Their win over Brazil extends their streak to 13 consecutive test match victories. Uruguay is also in a position now to challenge for the ARC title. A tough home match against the Argentina XV is their next assignment.
The USA scored 15 unanswered points in a dominant second half to claim a 29-10 win over Canada at Papa Murphy’s Park in breezy Sacramento on Saturday. At half time it was a match in which either side could win but the Eagles demonstrated why they have an unbeaten run over Canada dating back to August 2013. Saturday’s win brought the run up to seven matches. With the bonus point secured as well the USA are now leading the Americas Rugby Championship table and favorites to repeat as champions. After two rounds they lead Uruguay based on points differential.
The appalling performance against the USA has somewhat faded now as the Argentina XV improve dramatically in the second half against Chile. The scrum was vastly improved with Axel Zapata, Diego Fortuny, and Lucas Favre causing Chile serious problems. The backs were also significantly better. Facundo Nogueira, Tomás Malanos, and Santiago Resino all produced performances which ought to see them given plenty more opportunities under Felipe Contepomi.
The USA put in a fine team performance. The tries were also all well taken. The two from winger Ryan Matyas were a notable part of the victory. Originally from Arizona, he has split his time between New York and California in recent years and has proved a success story of the Americas Rugby Championship. He is now into his third campaign for the Eagles and is looking increasingly like to find a place on the plane to Japan in 2019. Don’t be surprised to see him in another Team of the Week coming soon.
RWC 2019 Repechage
Four places remain for RWC 2019. Canada is the only remaining hope for the Americas. The North Americans will face three other countries in the Repechage this November. The qualifying tournament promises to be highly exciting and nerve-wracking for players and fans alike. Exactly who will be joining Canada remains unknown at this stage. It is unlikely to be Romania who hammered Pablo Lemoine’s Germany 85-6 on Saturday. Spain also won, upsetting Russia in Krasnodar to take a giant leap forward and possibly eliminate Russia. The winner of the Rugby Europe Championship will compete in Pool A of RWC 2019. The runner-up will face Samoa in a World Cup qualifying playoff. The winner will qualify for Pool A while the loser will enter the Repechage. Africa 2 will join Canada in the Repechage, as will the Europe / Oceania play-off loser and the winner of the Asia / Oceania play-off.
Os Tupis held a commanding lead against Uruguay yet they fell apart in the second half. The lack of required fitness and Uruguay’s recovery saw the Brazilians stunned as another famous victory at Pacaembu was pulled out from under them. Brazil had been 15 points ahead and had scored two opening half tries, but no points came from them in the second half. Uruguay scored three second half tries to complete the comeback. Debutante Tomás Inciarte sealed the win, upsetting Brazilian supporters in the process. Claims of a debatable forward pass saw outrage on social media. It was not helped by ESPN Brasil slamming the officials for allowing it.
Patrick Parfrey scored a try for Canada on Saturday. It would be the only try from the Canadians. The USA, on the other hand, scored four. Nate Augspurger crossed in the 7th minute, Ryan Matyas bagged a double and Hanco Germishuys also scored. The loss in itself was perhaps to be expected but the result further underlined the USA’s clear superiority over their northern neighbors. Canada’s home match against Brazil at Westhills Stadium this coming weekend can only be described as must-win.
Los Cóndores were outplayed across the park in Ushuaia. The Argentina XV were vastly better prepared and it showed. The difference in fitness, physique, and skill level was extremely clear. Chile’s urgent need of a High Performance Program to match that of Uruguay cannot be overstated. Eight tries is too many to concede as is three yellow cards. Chile, nonetheless, had some individual standout performers. Fullback Tomás Ianiszewski was outstanding and promising outside center Lucca Avelli impressed on attack.
Los Jaguares are not Los Pumas. This has been central to the Mario Ledesma regime. Yet the same players are ultimately those who Daniel Hourcade will be selecting to face Scotland and Wales in the June Internationals. Losing 21-12 against the Bulls on Saturday was a poor result for Ledesma’s team. Many errors were made, including gifting a try to the opposition. Los Jaguares were, miraculously, 21-0 behind. This is inexplicable considering the team is supposed to be Argentina’s finest players and the Bulls are one of four South African franchises in Super Rugby.
‘Nelson’ was a replacement for Brazil at tighthead, taking over when Jardel Vettorato was forced off with an ankle injury. He struggled around the park in São Paulo and was a major liability at the scrum. Vettorato, in last week’s Team of the Week, played well against Uruguay before receiving a yellow card. It would be referred to by Juan Manuel Gaminara as the turning point in the match. Rebolo has packed on considerable bulk since he was last part of the team and not of the good kind. If he is to deliver on the promise he showed in 2016 he must immediately address his conditioning problems.