Argentine international rugby head coach Daniel Hourcade has named his first team for the year. Argentina is to host the first of two non-capped international matches against the USA Eagles' 'A' side the USA Select XV on Tuesday in Salta. Scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli will captain a side consisting of Pampas XV squad members, many of whom have signed Super Rugby contracts with the UAR. The opportunity is crucial to many dreaming of being selected to represent Argentina at Rugby World Cup 2015. Of those selected nine started for full-strength Pumas teams under Hourcade against Tier One opposition in 2014.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Sunday, April 26, 2015
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Former Argentine international fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta continues to press for a return to the test squad. The 29 year old has earned ten test caps but has not been selected for close to two years. While not being a part of Daniel Hourcade's plans to date the Buenos Aires pivot has been delivering for his team in France. With three rounds remaining Oyonnax is on course for a first ever play-offs appearance in the Top 14. The team's sixth placement at present is a direct result of Urdapilleta's performances. This weekend he kicked all 21 points for the eastern French club. Also scoring was Juan Imhoff who scored the game's only try, crossing for Racing Métro.
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Thursday's opening fixture of the USA Eagles' 'A' side's tour of South America was tight. So much so that the score was a low as 3-0 to the visiting North Americans in the final quarter. The lack of points was partially related to the missed opportunities at landing attempted kicks as it was the lack of execution with ball in hand. Overall, however, the predominant reason for the low scoring was the teams relatively even qualities. Looking ahead to 2016 the fixture is set to become annual in the new Pan American Six Nations competition currently being put together. Both Uruguay and the USA will be able to call upon their foreign based players thus making all matches fully capped genuine international contests.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
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With three rounds of the regular season yet to play the Top 14 season continues to defined by competitiveness and unpredictability. There is no clear odds-on-favorite team to win and places for the barrage play-offs remain wide-open. Further down there continues to be an ongoing battle to avoid relegation as realistically any side from seventh or lower is far from being safe from avoiding the drop. The fixtures this weekend in France were another to feature players from the Americas, the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup.
Friday, April 24, 2015
After losing against Brazil in São Paulo in 2014 Chile is out for revenge against Brazil in the 2015 South American Championship. The two teams are to meet this Saturday in a match which is to be Chile's first of the tournament but the second for Brazil. The visitors are coming off a 48-9 away loss against Uruguay last Saturday and are out to perform significantly better. Both teams have one eye on the South American Championship and another on the future. The outcome of meetings between North and South American representatives in Miami, Florida has seen the move to establish an Americas Six Nations continue to develop. Both Chile and Brazil are a part of the movement led by former Puma Agustín Pichot. They desire to start in February 2016 with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Uruguay and the USA playing in an annual Pan-American competition.
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The highest capped USA rugby player of all time is former prop Mike MacDonald. During his career MacDonald played in three Rugby World Cups and earned a total of 67 caps. Current captain Todd Clever is set to overtake MacDonald this year. Clever has earned 63 to date and is likely to be involved in the pre World Cup test matches starting with the Pacific Nations Cup in June. MacDonald spent six years playing professional rugby in England. Californian MacDonald scored his first test try in a home test in Houston, Texas against South Africa in December 2001. From a set-move back-rower Kort Schubert caught the line-out throw and set up a maul from which MacDonald broke clear and crawled over for the try. The Springboks won the end of year fixture 43-20. MacDonald would go on to score six test tries.