Thursday, December 16, 2010

USA winger Kevin Swiryn stars in the Amlin Challenge Cup

After three rounds of the 2010-2011 Amlin Challenge Cup in Europe results have been similar to those seen in this seasons Heineken Cup with French teams winning six of the seven matches involving French clubs in round three. After three rounds of Heineken Cup action French clubs are in first or second place of every group. The only exception is Group 2 which has Racing Metro in third place on 8 points behind another French side Clermont on 9 points and Leinster of Ireland on 10 points. In the Amlin Challenge Cup, French sides are even more dominant with French clubs leading every single group. The leaders are Bayonne, Brive, Montpellier, Stade Français and La Rochelle. Whilst the current wooden spooners of the Top 14 Orange, Bourgoin sit in fourth and last place in Group 3 behind Montpellier, the Exeter Chiefs and the Newcastle Falcons. Bourgoin have no interest in this years Amlin Challenge Cup as the club is in dire need of victories in the Top 14 Orange as they face relegation.

The seventh and final French team in this years Amlin Challenge Cup is Agen, a team who has returned to the Top 14 Orange after several years away playing in the second division - the Pro d2. Agen travelled to Italy to face Rovigo in a must win match. A loss would mean no chance of advancing to the play-off´s. the French side were impressive in defeating the Italians 33-10 with USA Eagles international winger Kevin Swiryn putting in an impressive performance as he scored two tries to once again show the quality of players being produced in the USA. The win sees Agen draw level with English side Gloucester who defeated La Rochelle of France 13-6 on the weekend. Despite losing, La Rochelle remain in first place on 11 points with Gloucester and Agen tied for second on 10 points.

There was also lots of action in the form of Argentine players in round three of the Amlin Challenge Cup. Kevin Swiryn was joined by former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic who has recently returned from a long injury layoff. Rovigo had three Argentine players in flyhalf Germán Bustos who kicked a penalty and a conversion and Agustín Guzmán and Pablo Calanchini. In group five´s other match uncapped Argentine frontrower Andrés Bordoy played for La Rochelle.

Two players in consideration for a place in the Pumas squad for Rugby World Cup 2011 put in good performances for Harlequins in the London sides 20-9 win over Irish province Connacht. Pumas winger Gonzalo Camacho appears to be more dangerous every match whilst uncapped secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli again played well for Harlequins. He must wonder what exactly he needs to do to get a call up to the Los Pumas squad. Lisandro Villagra played for Cavalieri Prato in the Italian´s massive loss to Bayonne in what was the other clash in group 1.

Another Italian side, Petrarca Rugby collected its first win of the season in defeating Spanish side El Salvador 37-10 at home on Saturday. Aregntine Martín Acuña scored two tries for Petrarca whilst fellow uncapped Argentine Nicolás Galatro also scored. Two other players from Argentina were involved in Santiago Sodini and Agustín Cavalieri. Meanwhile, French side Brive won an important match 18-9 vs English side Sale Sharks also on Saturday which made them clear leaders of the group. Former Pumas prop Pablo Cardinali played for Brive as did Pumas scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola who was on the bench.
Montpellier are in total control of Group 3 after outplaying Bourgoin 39-14 last wednesday. Uncapped Argentine winger Martín Bustos Moyano and Pumas flyhalf Santiago Fernández both scored tries with Bustos Moyano scoring 21 points in total. Uncapped Argentine centre Matías Viazzo slotted two penalties for Bourgoin. Exeter pulled off an impressive win in the groups other match in defeating Newcastle 36-10. Uncapped Argentine prop Ignacio Elosu played for the winners.

Group four has seemingly been won already by the impressive French side Stade Français who defeated the top club from Romania - the Bucharest Oaks 29-20 in Bucharest on Saturday. Argentine born Italian captain, Sergio Parisse scored a try for the Parisians. Pumas centre Gonzalo Tiesi had a good match while backrower Juan Manuel Leguizamón and tighthead prop Pedro Ledesma both returned to play for Stade Français following suspension and injury. English side Leeds Carnegie also won in the Groups other match as they defeated Italy´s Crociati 55-6 at home on sunday. The English side featured two Argentine props in Juan Gómez and Miguel Alonso while Argentina´s Sebastián Damiani played centre for Crociati.

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