Friday, May 22, 2015

International Rugby: Experimental Pumas named to face Paraguay

Los Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade has named an experimental team to face Paraguay in an away test match on Saturday. A total of eight changes have been made from the team that played away against Uruguay last weekend. The fixture is the second of two for the CONSUR Cup with a win for Argentina to confirm the country as the 2015 South American Champion. Paraguay earned the right to contest the CONSUR Cup by finishing in the top two of the 2014 South American Championship. In 2016, however, Chile will be back joining Uruguay and Argentina.  

International Rugby: Uruguay v Fiji Team Lists

The team lists for Saturday's international fixture in Montevideo have been announced. Uruguay is to play host to Fiji in what is a preview of their Rugby World Cup match on October 06 at Milton Keynes. As the fixture is not taking place during a World Rugby international player release window neither team has full access to all players. Consequently 80% Fiji's team is to be made up of local players. As such caps are not on offer for the visitors who are to play under the name Fijian Warriors, which is the country's A team. The URU is, however, to cap the Teros players despite World Rankings not being on the line. The match is to be the first of two and the winner of the series will be awarded the Copa Scotiabank. 

Retro Friday: Juan Grobler scores for USA v Australia in 1999

Despite being stacked with attacking talent the Rugby World Cup 1999 winning Wallabies were famous not for playing with flair but for their near-flawless defense. So strong were the Australians in this area that the country conceded only one try in Rugby World Cup 1999. This was the case despite playing against all of Ireland, Wales, South Africa and France. The one that got through was from none of these nor was it from Romania but, rather from the USA. Eagles winger Juan Grobler dived over in the corner to score the only try against the Wallabies and did so not in the official host nation of Wales but in Ireland. The try came several phases after a set-piece move from a lineout with the great Dave Hodges giving his country good go-forward ball to draw in defenders which enabled Grobler to finish off the try outwide. All Pool E games were played in Ireland with Australia v USA taking place at Thomond Park in Limerick.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

RWC Bid: Ireland Claims to have 40% of the votes before Process Begins

Photo RTE
The application process for submitting interest in being the host nation for Rugby World Cup 2023 remains open. The global governing body of the sport, World Rugby confirmed recently that unions have until June 15 to confirm their intention of hosting the competition. To date France, Ireland, Italy and South Africa have all done so while speculation exists that this list will grow to include others. Despite there still being time and for the individual details of the bids remaining largely unknown a bomb-shell has been dropped as Dick Spring, the Chairman of Ireland's bid has told RTE Radio that Ireland has also secured 40% of the required votes. Such confidence brings into question the legitimacy of the decision making process with it appearing to be anything but fair.

Pro d2: Taylor Paris 100 metre try for Agen v Perpignan Semi Final

Photo Sud Oeste
Canadian international winger Taylor Paris scored a quite remarkable try this past weekend as he ran from inside his own try line to score under the opposition's posts in a French second division Semi Final. Playing for former Top 14 side Agen v the Top 14 2009 champions Perpignan Paris ran the length of the field to score one of Agen's four tries. With the match finishing in a 26-26 draw at full time and then 32-32 at the completion of extra time Agen advanced to the Pro d2 Final by virtue of outscoring Perpignan by four tries to two. Paris is likely to to starting for Canada at the World Cup and to do so in a wing combination with Jeff Hassler, one of the best wingers in Wales.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Super Rugby: Plans for Argentine Franchise

Photo UAR
Many questions remain unanswered as to the what the future holds for the Argentine Super rugby franchise which is to debut in the 2016 competition. UAR President Carlos Araujo recently revealed the plans as they stand presently and what is to come. The team continues to be without a name or a home venue and is also yet to fully confirm all squad members. Argentine rugby has plenty riding on the success of the franchise with Araujo having admitted that there is real interest in having a second Argentine team join the competition in the coming years. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Top 14: Americas Exports - Round 25

The penultimate round of the French domestic competition, the Top 14 was played this weekend. It was another round of professional rugby featuring a host of players from the Americas. With Japan having been allocated hosting rights to Rugby World Cup 2019 only the Americas remains as a region never to have had the opportunity. Argentina 2023 looms as a strong option and the contribution of players from that country and others in the region have been substantial for the sport. With one rounds of the Top 14 remaining Lyon have been confirmed as trading places with Pro d2 winners Pau while either Bayonne or Brive will be dropping to the second division in place of Agen or Mont de Marsan, who will contest the Pro d2 final in Toulouse next Sunday.  

Sevens: USA v Australia London Sevens Final Full Match

Photo World Rugby
The USA made history today by winning a first ever Cup Title at a World Rugby Sevens Circuit event. Curiously the 45-22 victory over Australia came exactly 91 years after the USA rugby team won the Olympic Gold Medals in Paris. May 17 therefore now has two important achievements which happen to be among the greatest of all time from U.S. rugby teams. A number of players are expected to feature for the USA at this years Rugby World Cup and, indeed, at the 2015 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The USA is to be involved in regional qualifiers in June and will subsequently play in the Pan American Games in Toronto in July. Based on their performances in London and earlier events on the 2014-2015 World Circuit the USA men's team will be chasing Gold. 

Top 14: Benjamín Urdapilleta edges Oyonnax towards play-offs

Photo Rugby Rama
Argentine fly half Benajmín Urdapilleta continued his fine form this weekend in scorting eighteen points in Oyonnax's home win over Lyon. The ten time capped Puma was on target with his goalkicking and also scored one try and helped create another. Urdapilleta is the second higest scorer in the Top 14 this season. With 297 points he is behind only Jonathan Wisniewski who has 303 points for Grenoble. With one round remaining Oyonnax sit in fifth position on 62 competition points. Both Bordeaux and Racing Métro are on 60 and could overtake Oyonnax as a result. Oyonnax play Toulon away next round while Racing Métro have Castres at home and Bordeaux face Toulouse on the road. Should Oyonnax do well and reach the barrage then Urdapilleta is highly likely to be the top points scored of the French season.