Friday, October 24, 2014

RWC 2015: Total Rugby Previews the Pool of Death featuring Uruguay

This week's edition of Total Rugby took a look into Pool A of Rugby World Cup 2015. With the group containing two previous winners in addition to a two-time Semi Finalist and a two-time Quarter Finalist it has the name of the Pool of Death based on merit. Joining Australia, England, Wales and Fiji is Uruguay a country that will appear in its third Rugby World Cup and first since 2003. The South Americans have a tough task awaiting them but the quality of Fiji at this point is arguably not to the strength of a number of the other fourth seeded teams. Had Uruguay been in a different pool it would face one of Japan, Georgia or Canada in place of Fiji.

Retro Friday: Taku Ngwenya runs magic past Shane Williams

Photo Rugby Dump
One of the most memorable tries of the past decade was a solo effort by USA international Takudzwa Ngwenya for Biarritz v Ospreys in 2010. The Heineken Cup fixture was played in Spain and the Eagles winger let Welsh wizard Shane Williams for dead. Still aged just twenty-nine Ngwenya has plenty of rugby left in him and has been recalled to the national team for the upcoming international matches against Romania, Tonga and Fiji. He will, however, play no part in the ground-breaking test against New Zealand in Chicago. Ngwenya's last cap was a Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Canada in 2013. He has played tweny-seven test matches too date including seven tests at Rugby World Cups.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Americas RC: Aaron Flagg puts in two big tackles for Canada 'A'

Image ARC
The recent IRB Americas Rugby Championship was not memorable from a Canadian perspective as the host nation lost two out of three matches. Canada 'A' defeated Uruguay 'A' but the gulf between Canada 'A' and Los Jaguares remained as the Argentina 'A' side was too strong. The measure of success or failure, however, came down to the performance against the USA Select XV as the USA's 'A' side had demonstrated progress by defeating the Canadians in 2013. The upset result then saw the USA Eagles defeat Canada in a Pacific Nations Cup test match earlier this year and the three-peat was confirmed with the USA Select XV defeating Canada 'A' this week. Canada 'A' thus finished third. 

Top 14: Stade Français sign Argentine prop Santiago Gárcia Botta

Photo A Pleno Rugby
Belgrano Atheltic prop Santiago Gárcia Botta has signed a short-term contract with French Top 14 club Stade Français. the twenty-two year old os to join the Parisian club as a medical joker for a term of no shorter than three months. The young loosehead prop is a former Pumita and has been capped at international level against Tier Three opposition. He joins Stade Français in what is to be his first professional contract after having played for the same club as Pumas Marcelo Bosch and Tomás Cubelli. In doing so he will play under the coaching of former Argentine test fly half Gonzalo Quesada. 

International Rugby: Is prioritizing USA v All Blacks in Chicago right?

Image USA Rugby
An off-field victory was ensured this past week as USA Rugby gained confirmed access to its players contracted to Aviva Premiership teams for the upcoming break-through home fixture against New Zealand in Chicago. Securing player release means that the North Americans will be able to have a strong team go up against the number one team in the world, the All Blacks. It has, however, come at a cost as the agreement reached means that the Aviva Premiership players will return from Chicago to England and play no part in the subsequent tests against  Romania, Tonga and Fiji in Europe. What is the opinion of those who dedicate their time to covering our great sport in the United States. Argentina 2023 seeks to find the answer to the the question on everyone's mind. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

International Rugby: 35-man USA Squad Named

Photo USA Rugby
USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has adapted to the demands of missing Aviva Premiership players against Fiji, Romania and Tonga. With USA Rugby having secured player release for those based in England for the November 01 fixture in Chicago against New Zealand the trade-off is that they will then be forced out of taking-on any of the three other of the USA's international opposition in the autumn internationals. Six players are thus going to miss out on three test caps while team captain Todd Clever is free to play in all four matches and those based in France can play both the All Blacks and other tests. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

International Rugby: Argentina with Five new players for November

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Image: UAR
Los Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade has confirmed his squad members for the upcoming three test match tour of Scotland, Italy and France. The thirty-man squad features twenty-five players returning from the Rugby Championship and places for five players who were not involved. The faith shown from Hourcade sees a number of regulars under Santiago Phelan continuing to be unwanted for international duty. The selection provides insight into whom Hourcade is likely to have and not have in his squad for Rugby World Cup 2015. Those not selected for November therefore face an uphill battle.

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.