Monday, October 20, 2014

RWC 2015: Assessing USA Eagles' Chances a Year Out

Photo: Travis Prior-KLC
In  twelve months time the Rugby World Cup will be into the final phase. With the final being played on October 31st 2015 the countdown is now well underway. The Americas is to have one team in each pool giving the only IRB defined region never to have been allocated a Rugby World Cup a total of 20% of participants in the 2015 World Cup. The USA is a team gaining increased attention due in no small part to an increased quality of players abroad. Indeed the USA has overtaken Canada now in having players getting regular match time in an elite level competition. The USA Eagles have also progressed with wins over the likes of Canada, Georgia, Romania and Russia in between World Cups. What, then, are the changes of competing well in Rugby World Cup 2015?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

European Rugby Champions Cup: Americas Players Review Round 1

Following drastic changes the new European competition got off the ground this past weekend. The new competition, however, was much familiar to that of the former Heineken Cup. The new competition features four fewer sides and therefore five rather than six pools of four teams. Another change is the venue for the final with London having replaced Milan which had been named before the Heineken Cup was made defunct. The new competition featured leading sides from the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and Guinness Pro 12. Involved were players from the Americas with Argentina, Canada and the USA all being represented. Many players are to be involved in international matches next month and will also be a part of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and Wales. 

European Rugby Challenge Cup: Americas Players Review Round 1

The opening round of the second-string European professional club competition game to a place this afternoon. It completed the start of the first ever European Rugby Challenge Cup which has replaced the former Amlin Challenge Cup but remains a twenty team competition with there being five pools of four teams. As it is a second Tier competition in professional terms many clubs do not take it seriously which was clear in the opening round as many leading players did not take to the field. 

Americas RC: Los Jaguares Team to face Canada A

Photo UAR
The training staff of Los Jaguares, Pablo Goméz Cora and Bernardo Urdaneta, have opted for ten changes to their team for the final round match of the Americas Rugby Championship to take place later on today in Canada. The Argentine A side defeated Uruguay 'A' 31-9 in the second round and thus claimed the Americas Rugby Championship title with one game remaining due to the USA Select XV and Canada 'A' both having a win and a loss from their opening two matches. With Daniel Hourcade set to name his squad for November on Tuesday the match against Canada 'A' is a final chance for many players to press their claims for selection.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Retro Friday: Felipe Contepomi scores v French Barbarians in 2011

Photo Rugby Dump
With there no longer being international tours in the month of June Southern sides such as Argentina look to place alternate matches into their schedule. In 2011 the French Barbarians played matches in Avallaneda and Resistencia and plans are underway for two such matches in 2015 in addition to tests against Canada and the USA. Captaining Argentina last time around was Felipe Contepomi whose performance saw the home side winning the opening fixture in Greater Buenos Aires. He scored one of Argentina's three tries after finishing off a break from fullback Martín Rodríguez Guruchaga. Now aged 37 Contepomi's international career is over. He retired after the 2013 Rugby Championship but remains playing for his home club of Newman in Buenos Aires. This past week he was approached by Montpellier who want him as a medical joker to replace François Trinh-Duc who suffered a fractured tibia playing against Oyonnax last Saturday. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Los Pumas: Five Players who Hourcade could Call-Up for November

Photo UAR
The selection policy of Daniel Hourcade in the 2014 Rugby Championship was that of a coach putting faith in his players as a squad more so than a starting XV. Argentina, consequently, had some players rotated depending on the opposition and almost all squad members were given match time. Injuries meant that in addition to the original thirty-man squad two others were ultimately utilized, thus giving Argentina a squad of thirty-two in the four nation tournament. These players are the names expected to be released shortly by Hourcade for the November tests against Scotland, Italy and France. Who, therefore, are the players that could join them? Quite possibly the answer will come not from Europe but from home.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Aviva Premiership: Samu Manoa scores three tries v Sale Sharks

Photo Northampton Saints
Samu Manoa underlined his reputation as the best number eight in the Aviva Premiership by crossing for three tries in Northampton's home fixture against the Sale Sharks on Saturday. His hat-trick came from a lineout and rolling mauls with the USA Eagle crossing on all three occasions without too much trouble. Manoa's ability has seen him recognized by being named in Aviva Premiership Dream Team's. He is, however, yet to play in a Rugby World Cup. He missed 2011 but will not do so in 2015. Manoa is set to be a big drawing card for the USA team and should also enhance his reputation before then with the USA hosting New Zealand in under three weeks time at the home of the Chicago Bears, Soldier Field.

Aviva Premiership: Chris Wyles scores v Gloucester

Photo Rugby Wrap up
Round six of the 2013-2014 Aviva Premiership was one in which USA Eagles' players in England left their mark. Three Americans scores tries for their respective clubs and their clubs all won their matches. With the USA Eagles set to make history by hosting a test match at Chicago's Soldier Field against New Zealand next month the form of North Americans bodes well for the underdogs who will take international rugby to a large NFL arena. Wyles is likely to be playing fulolback against the All Blacks but his try against Gloucester came with him playing outside centre. 

Aviva Premiership: Blaine Scully scores v Harlequins

Photo One News Page
USA Eagles international winger Blaine Scully scored the opening try of round six of the Aviva Premiership when he crossed for a third minute try under the posts against the Harlequins on Friday evening. Scully is expected to be named as the starting right winger for the USA in next month's home international against New Zealand in Chicago. Too date the Californian has been capped twenty times by the USA. He is on track to play in a second Rugby World Cup and be promoted to the public as a familiar face. The USA will play their pool matches in Brighton, Leeds, London and Gloucester.