Wednesday, November 26, 2014

RWC 2015: World Cup Ticket Sales Indicate Welsh Allocation Mistake

Rugby World Cup 2015 is to be England's third time hosting World Cup matches. The tradition of concentrating home matches at Twickenham is in common to that of Wales at the Millnnium Stadium, Scotland at Murrayfield and Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. This factor combined with rugby lacking a nationwide spread in all four nations contributed heavily to the disorganization of Rugby World Cups 1991 and 1999 which featured all four, in addition to France, hosting matches. 2007, for other reasons, saw Wales and Scotland hosting for a third time while Wales will do so for a fourth in 2015. The ability of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) to secure fixtures every eight years is questionable considering many matches not being full and this trend appears set to continue in 2015. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

RWC in Argentina will not result in Abandoned Sports Stadiums

Copa América 2011 Host Venues
One of the crucial questions of hosting a Rugby World Cup is whether or not a host nation has the required stadiums to do so. Since the current format was established for Rugby World Cup 2003 the tournaments have utilized either eleven or thirteen stadiums. A host nation ought to be able to provide a comparable number and do so by distributing matches to different cities around the country. Compared to host nations during this period Argentina has appropriate venues in place now and, as such, will not need to invest much funding into constructing new or upgrading existing stadiums. Rugby World Cup 2023 in Argentina would not result in abandoned stadiums.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

International Rugby: France v Argentina Highlights

After beating Australia, France were strong favourites to beat a youthful Argentine side comfortably but came unstuck against a determined Pumas effort. Captain Agustín Creevy on particularly inspired form in the absence of leaders of the pack such as Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe. The entire first choice back row was missing leading into the game, and was dealt a further blow when Leonardo Senatore went off early. The game was won with a pack including two 20 year olds, and two 21 year olds, which was incredible. However experience also played it's part in the win with Nicolas Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez netted four drop goals between them to build up a nice cushion to defend. Numerous others such as Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias also put in good shifts. This was only Argentina's second away win over one of the top 5 Six Nations sides for 5 years after a losing run against all but Italy, so this is a significant win for Daniel Hourcade and ends what has turned out to be a satisfactory year for a side that is in a deep transition period.

International Rugby: Romania v Canada Highlights

Canada rounded off a disappointing year with another defeat, this time at the hands of ENC runners up Romania in a tryless game in Bucharest. The November tour has not been a good one for Canada, with the only win a narrow one against Namibia, this is the second loss in consecutive years to Romania despite not having conceded a try in either of the games. The sides will face off again next year in all important World Cup encounter in Leicester.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

International Rugby: Argentina becomes full SANZAR member

Photo UAR
Confirmation of Argentina and Japan being added to an expanded Super Rugby competition starting in 2016 created headlines throughout the rugby world this past week. Argentina's involvement had been known for a long time with Japan's having been under threat from Singapore or missing out altogether. What was not covered extensively by the media was that a lot more took place for Argentina than simply joining the SANZAR competition. The South American country was fully integrated into SANZAR to no longer be a guest but now a partner union alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Such a change is a phenomenal step towards hosting a Rugby World Cup.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

International Rugby: Patricio Albacete will never play for Argentina again

Photo UAR
After months of silence over the issue Los Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade has come out and publicly stated that the international career of Patricio Albacete is over. After training in Paris ahead of Saturday's international test match against France Hourcade told the press that Albacete is the only Argentine rugby player that cannot play for his country again. The comment from el huevo puts an end to the speculation that, indeed, the Toulouse second-rower has had his test career cut short for off-field reasoning. Now without Albacete Hourcade will need to identify and prepare alternative options to represent South America's most powerful rugby nation at next year's World Cup in England and Wales. Indeed, for this very reason such players have been representing Argentina in 2014 while Albacete has been unselected.

Retro Friday: Mike Hercus scores against France in RWC 2003

Phillip Eloff and Mike Hercus of the USA
Photo BBC
The USA Eagles campaign at Rugby World Cup 2003 is considered successful. The North Americans defeated Japan in Gosford and were unlucky to lose against Fiji in Brisbane after fly half Mike Hercus' attempted final minute conversion sailed wide. The Australian born fly half had a good tournament and scored the final try for the North Americans against France in Wollongong. Having regathered a poor clearance kick from France the USA Eagles spread the ball wide to Riaan van Zyl who came close to scoring. The USA won the ball from the subsequent ruck and looked to cross through forwards in the following phases before passing to Hercus who showed a dummy before crossing and beating the tackle of scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili. Hercus added the conversion to make it a 31-14 game.   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

International Rugby: Canada change three for Romania

Photo:  Jose Lagman
Canadian rugby head coach Kieran Crowley has made three changes to his starting lineup for Saturday's international match against Romania in Bucharest. Named for the first time since June is captain Tyler Ardron who will form a noteworthy back-row together with Jebb Sinclair and Nanyak Dala. With the match being a preview of next year's pool fixture both teams have everything to play for. The fixture is also a repeat of that from last November in which the Eastern Europeans won 21-20 in the final play of the match. 

International Rugby: Fiji v USA Teams Named

Photo USA Rugby
Without access to many of his leading players USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has named a North American team missing many of the USA's big name players for Friday's international against Fiji at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, France. Those contracted to Aviva Premiership players are not involved in the match for the USA Eagles due to their involvement against the All Blacks in Chicago earlier this month. Fiji is under no such restrictions which sees the higher ranked of the two enter the fixture with an added advantage.