Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This past weekend saw the debut of two Argentine players for their new French clubs and the run-on debut for a third. All eyes were on the long awaited return of El Mago - Juan Martín Hernández, after a 10 month injury lay-off sustained while playing for the Sharks in South Africa´s Currie Cup in 2009. Hernández came on for Racing Metro in the second half to kick one penalty and a conversion as his team scored an away victory vs last seasons semi finalists, Toulon.
Fellow Paris club, Stade Français Paris selected Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga for his first run on match after playing the first two matches as a replacement. In this years June internationals vs Scotland and France he made the Pumas 15 shirt his own with three strong performances. Stade Français, however, opted to play him at inside centre for Saturdays match vs Toulouse. They were not let down. Debuting vs Toulouse, Rodriguez scored all 16 of his teams points including a great try and another very good linebreak past French captain, Thierry Dusautoir. His performance showed that he has the potential to develop into a very potent player. Santiago Fernández (Montpellier) and Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz) will need to step up their performances or not make the Pumas 22 come November. Even Felipe Contepomi could be under pressure for his spot. Rodriguez is likely to be Argentina´s 15 but if he plays well at 12 for Stade Français then 12 may be where he is picked.
There was a third Argentine player with the name Martín debuting on the weekend - uncapped winger Martín Bustos Moyano who played his first match for Montpellier alongside Pumas flyhalf Santiago Fernández. Bustos Moyana was the goalkicker. He had a good debut, slotting goals and playing well in general. If he can get regular game time he could be in line for a first ever call up to the Pumas squad.
Monday, August 30, 2010
In the pool stage which was completed on Saturday August 28, both participating countries from the Americas had success. The United States Faced Asian qualifiers, Kazakhstan in their first match and totally outplayed them in winning 51-0. The United States were unable to win their other pool matches but did compete well. Canada were able to win two of their three pool matches. They defeated Scotland 37-10 in their first match and Sweeden 40-10 in their second before losing to France in their final pool match. In winning two pool matches Canada finished second in their group which gives them the opportunity of finishing 5th over all. The will face Scotland on September 01 in a rematch to determine who finishes 5th in the world while the United States will go up against Ireland with the winner claiming 7th spot.
In the 2006 Women´s Rugby World Cup Canada finished 4th and the USA 5th. The best performance from a Women´s team from the Americas was in the first ever Women´s World Cup when the United States won the title in 1991 after defeating New Zealand 7-0 in the semi-final and England 19-6 in the final. They also did very well in 1994 and 1998 when the United States won the silver medal on both occassions. This underlines the strength of having the Americas strongest team, Argentina, host Rugby World Cup 2023. The Americas has better Women´s teams than Rugby World Cup host nations such as Japan, South Africa and Wales. Canada hosted the Women´s Rugby World Cup in 2006 with Heather Moyse being the tournaments top scorer as the hosts finished fourth.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The advantage of this is that it gives Canada its own domestic competition with the same four teams from 2009 participating. It then allows national coach, Kieran Crowley, to select the top players from all four teams to play in what will be called Canada A in the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship to be played in Córdoba, Argentina in September following the completion of the CRC. Competing alongside Canada A will be the USA Select XV, Tonga A and hosts Argentina will have their A team, Los Jaguars. It is a unique opportunity for allm four countries to bridge the gap from domestic to international rugby.
So far the CRC has proven to be highly unpredictable. Last year the BC Bears won after defeating the Ontario Blues in the Final. However, this year has seen vast changes in performances with the Ontario Blues being defeated at home 13-15 by the Prarie Wolfpack and 33-0 by The Rock. The BC Bears were similarly out played by last years third and fourth teams in losing 41-6 vs the Prairie Wolf Pack and 34-12 vs The Rock. These results mean that regardless of what happens in the final round of the CRC (to be played on September 4), the 2010 finalists will be the Prairie Wolf Pack and The Rock. The winner of their roundrobin match on September 4 will determine who hosts the final on September 18.
Young starts from both The Rock and the Prairie Wolf Pack have come through this year. But 40 year old Canadian legend, Rod Snow has also returned and taken it to the youngsters. Snow is a veteran having played for Canada in Rugby World Cup 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007. He played professional rugby in South Africa and in Wales and a total of 62 tests for Canada. His most recent test was vs Australia in Bordeaux during France 2007.
BC Bears vs The Rock:
Friday, August 27, 2010
French Top 14 club, C.A Brive are in the process of signing 25 year old Argentine scrum-half, Agustín Figuerola on a one year deal with the option of a one year extention. An official announcement is expected to bemade on Monday. In what is to be his first professional contract, Figuerola will join three other Argentine players at the club - props Pablo Henn and Pablo Cardinali and flyhalf Luciano Orquera. He will be in competition with three other scrum-halves for a place in the Brive team: Mathieu Belie, Jean-Baptiste Péjoine and Shaun Perry (England). He will certainly push for plenty of game time as in addition to being an international rugby player for Argentina, he is also an accomplished goalkicker.
Figuerola is one of Argentina´s top three scrum-halves alongside Nicolas Vergallo (Toulouse, FRA) and Alfredo Lalanne (London Irish, ENG). He made his test debut vs Italy as a replacement in November 2008 and has thus far played 7 tests for Argentina including 2 in the starting lineup. He was a key sevens player for Argentina in the 2009 World Cup in Dubai in which Argentina were beaten finalists. Figuerola has also played for Los Jaguars and the Pampas XV in the Vodacom Cup. He joins Brive from Buenos Aires club, CASI. With Brive, Argentina and Figuerola himself all set to benefit tremendously, Figuerola´s goal of making Los Pumas squad for Rugby World Cup 2007 has just recieved a huge boost.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This weekend will see the long awaited return of Juan Martín Hernández after a 10 month injury lay-off sustained while playing for the Sharks in South Africa´s Currie Cup. As it is his first match back he has been selected as a replacement for Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon in Toulon on Friday. In am interview with scrum.com.ar, Hernández said he is likely to play around 20 minutes. Argentine backrower, Alvaro Galindo will start at 7 and prop Juan Orlandi will join Hernández on the bench.
After two rounds, Racing Metro are in 12th position after wining their first match but losing to Montpellier in round 2. The club will be looking to use Hernández appropriately so that he can be eased back into French club rugby and thus contribute better to his new club.
Racing Metro team to play Toulon:
15 Fall, 14 Bobo, 13 VuliVuli, 12 Masi, 11 Bergamasco, 10 Wisniewsk, 9 Fillol, 8 Chabal, 7 Galindo, 6 Battut, 5 Qovu, 4 Nallet, 3 Sa, 2 Noirot, 1 Lo Cicero
Replacements: 16 Arganese, 17 Brugnaut, 18 Ghezal, 19 Cronje, 20 Lorée, 21 Hernandez, 22 Chavancy, 23 Orlandi.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
USA Eagles backrower, Louis Stanfill is one of the most promising players from the United States. He is 25 years of age but amazingly made his test debut in 2005 as a 19 year old vs Canada. He is capable of playing in the back-row at 6 or 8 as well as in the second row if need be as his height is 1.91m Since debuting vs Canada back in 2005, Stanfill has been a regular in the USA Eagles team. He has played 19 tests thus far including all four at Rugby World Cup 2007 where he started all games in the number 6 shirt and scored tries vs Samoa and Tonga. He did so aged only 22 and formed a great 6-7 combination with Todd Clever. The pair are certain to continue to be the USA´s flankers for quite some time yet. They will recieve plenty of media attention come Rugby World Cup 2011 where they are guaranteed to maintian their spots in the team.
Stanfill was born in Sacramento, California but made a name for himself by playing rugby for New York Athletic Club and UC Berkeley in California. Today, however, he no longer plays in the United States. Rather, Stanfill plays in Australia for the Canberra Royals Rugby Football Club in the ACTRU Premier Division. The ACTRU Premier Division is the governing body of the region covering the Australia Capital Territory (ACT) and the Southern NSW Rugby Union. The region is home to the Brumbies who play as one of what will be 5 Australian sides in the Super 15 in 2011. Stanfill could well be in line for a place in the Brumbies side. He is, without question a better player than a number of players in his position at the Brumbies as well as in all Australian Super Rugby teams.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Of the 12 American Teams that are a part of the Commonwealth two will compete at this years Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, India in October. Canada and Guyana are the two succesful teams with Barbados, Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St Vincent & The Grenadines, St Lucia, Turks & Caicos and Trinidad & Tobago all missing out. The tournament will be played over two days at the University of Delhi Stadium and will involve 16 teams.
Canada have always been the best Commonwealth rugby country from the Americas and will be looking to their impressive performances in 2010 which have included wins against strong teams. In the Wellington Sevens Canada defeated Argentina 26-7 and France 21-19. At the Hong Kong Sevens, Canada won the Bowl final after defeating Tonga 12-10 and China 12-7 in pool play and then defeating Tonga again 26-0, Portugal 26-24 and Wales 35-19 to win the Bowl. At the London Sevens Canada ´s success continued as they again won the Bowl Final. In pool play Canada knocked over France 26–5 and in the Bowl series defeated Russia 21-12, the United States 22-17 and Portugal 19-17 in the final. Canada were unable to repeat their success at the Edinburgh Sevens but did defeat England 19–26 and Italy 35-0.
Considereing these results it is fair to say that Canada are contenders for a medal and could indeed target the Bronze medal. They will be advantaged by the fact that only Commonwealth countries compete which means the likes of Argentina, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia and the United States will all not be competing. Powerhouses, Fiji will also not be competing as the country is banned from the Games because of the 2006 military coup which overthrew the democratically elected government.
Guyana have not participated in as many International Sevens Tournaments as Canada but have nonetheless had success. The team participated in the 2010 USA leg of the Sevens World Series in Las Vegas the 2010 Las Vegas and managed a 12-12 draw vs France. They will be targeting at least one win and do appear to be a better side than some of the other 15 teams who will participate in the event. Guyana's participation, like Canada's further underlines the strength of the Americas region to host Rugby World Cup 2023. Argentina should have the honor of hosting and the backing of the entire region.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
In addition to the three USA players in this seasons Top 14 there will also be two important Eagles players playing in the pro d2 (second division in France) for Sporting club albigeois, or simply Albi. Second-rower, John van der Giessen has played 13 tests for the USA since making his debut in 2008. He only started playing rugby in 2001. van de Giessen captained University of Idaho Rugby from 2004-2005 and played professionally in New Zealand for Hawkes Bay in 2006. Despite being new to rugby, he was called into the USA squad for Rugby World Cup 2007 after veteran Luke Gross was injured.
John van der Giessen will be joined again this season by USA Eagles prop, Matekitonga Moeakiola. Like Zee Ngwenya, Moeakiola, made his test debut vs England at Lens in Rugby World Cup 2007. he has played 18 tests for the USA Eagles. Before joining Albi he played in Utah for Park City Haggis. Both van der Gliessen and Moeakiola will be playing their second season for the club having arrived last season to play for Albi in the Top 14. Both are important players for the USA and are certanties to make the cut for New Zealand 2011.
The Pro d2 starts next weekend with all 16 teams competiting.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Top 14 is underway and next weekend France´s second division of rugby, the Pro d2 will also have started. Like the Top 14, the competition will feature players from Argentina. Two of them will be worth paying special attention to as they are both probably going to be selected for Rugby World Cup 2011 as wingers for Argentina whist a third back is a possibility for selection.
Pumas winger Lucas Borges will be playing his second season for Albi after the team was relegated from the Top 14 for finishing in last place in the 2009-2010 season. Borges is a veteran of European club rugby having previously played for Stade Français Paris from 2005-2007, Benetton Trévise (Italy) from 2007-2008 and US Dax (France) from 2008-2009. This season will be his first of second division rugby.
Borges made his debut for Argentina vs Paraguay in 2003 and has played a total of 30 tests and scored 13 tries for Los Pumas thus far. He played in 5 matches at France 2007, scoring 3 tries. Since Rugby World Cup 2007 he has suffered injury setbacks which have forced him out of a number of test matches including all of Argentina´s tests in November 2008 and June 2009. This allowed other players the opportunity of wearing the Pumas 14 shirt and now it is more competitive than at any other time since his debut in 2003. Borges was dropped for the second test vs Scotland in June and was not selected for the test vs France. He needs a solid season for the club to book his ticket to New Zealand 2011.
Fellow Pumas winger, Rafaël Carballo will be playing his second season for Union Bordeaux Bègles. he previously played for Toulon from 2004-2006 and for Castres Olympique in the Top 14 from 2006-2009. He left Castres following a long injury in 2009 in which he had almost a year off from rugby. He signed for Union Bordeaux Bègles in January 2010 and started playing for the club immediately.
Carballo is a highly talented winger who can also play centre. He made his debut for Argentina vs Canada in 2005 and has played 9 tests for Los Pumas. He should have played a lot more but missed out because of injury. he made the 14 shirt his own following a fantastic try vs Italy in 2008 in Torino in which he linked superbly with Juan Martín Hernández. Sadly, for him he would miss all of Argentina´s tests in 2009 but now he is back and playing well. He scored a try vs France in the record breaking victory in Buenos Aires in June. The Pumas 14 shirt is now his to lose. Argentina also have talented wingers based in England such as Horacio Agulla, Lucas Gonzalez Amorisino and Gonzalo Camacho so Carballo needs to keep up the good form he showed in June or else he could miss out.
28 year old Argentine centre / fullback Juan Ignacio Gauthier has signed to play for Colomiers after playing last season in Italy for Rugby Roma. Gauthier has represented Argentina A and the Argentine Jaguars but has never been selected for the Argentine test team - Los Pumas. He said that his move to Colomiers is to try to break into the Pumas squad. In his opinion the quality of Italy´s premier rugby division is inferior to that of the Pro d2. Gauthier will need to play well for Colomiers if he is to succeed in being selected for New Zealand 2011 but without question he is a very talented player.
There will also be three Argentine props playing in the Pro d2 this season, two of which are capped internationals for Los Pumas. Tucumán's. Ariel Castellina will be playing his fifth seasons for one of the favourites to win the championship, Lyon Olympique. He previously played in the Top 14 for Agen from 2004-2006 and won three test caps for Argentina in 2004. He debuted vs Chile in the 2004 South American Championship and also played against Uruguay and Venezuela.
Sébastien Rondinelli debut a year latter for Argentina and played two tests - vs Canada and Samoa. He will be playing this season for Aix-en-Provence. It will be the tenth season in France for the La Plata native. Uncapped Argentine prop, Jorge Garcia will be playing for Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby for his fourth consecutive season of Pro d2 rugby. Last season he played 15 matches for the club with 13 of them being as a starter.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The continued growth of rugby in South America is set to continue with great news coming from Brazil today. Following great efforts from the President of the the Confederation of Brazilian Rugby (CBRu), Sami Arap, Brazil has been confirmed to take its place in a Cross-Border International tournament in november which will be organized by the Confederation of South American Rugby (CONSUR), with the participation of Brazil, Paraguay and two Argentine provinces.
Furthermore, Brazil and Paraguay will also participate in the International Cross-Border Tournament that will take place in 2011 starting on February 12 and finishing in April. In addition to Brazil and Paraguay it will feature Chile, Uruguay and four other Argentine Provinces. The unions of all participating countries can celebrate this announcement as South America continues to progress into a better organized region offering more for the future of rugby in all parts of the continent. The progress made by Brazil in particular appears to have been not only noted but also awarded as the future of rugby in the country appears better every year.
Thanks to http://www.brasilrugby.com.br/
Monday, August 16, 2010
USA Eagles Centre / Wing Paul Emerick will be playing for the newly formed Crusaders Rugby FC (Crociati Rugby FC) in the Italian Super 10. The club is new having been formed in June 2010 by the merger of Overmach Rugby Parma FC and Noceto Rugby FC. Emerick joined Overmach Parma in 2008 having previously played two seasons in Wales for the Newport Gwent Dragons. His first taste of professional rugby, however, was also in Italy in 2004-2005 playing for Amatori Catania for one season and then the following at Overmach Parma. He made his mark in his homeland playing for the Northern Iowa Panthers and the Chicago Lions.
Emerick has been to two Rugby World Cup´s and is a certainty to go to a third in 2011. He made his test debut vs Spain in 2003 and has played 37 tests. He will be in the starting lineup either playing in the 13 or 11 shirt. His natural position is 13 but has the speed and skills to switch to the wing as he did in his most recent test - vs Russia in the 2010 Churchill Cup. At full strength, the USA are likely to field a back three of 11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen), 15 Chris Wyles (Saracens) and 14 Zee Ngwyena (Biarritz) with Emerick returning to his natural position of 13. This was the combination used vs Uruguay in November 2009 when the United States qualified for Rugby World Cup 2011.
South African born backrower, J. J. Gagiano made his test debut for the United States in November 2008 vs Uruguay and has thus far played 10 tests for the USA Eagles. He will be playing for Rugby Roma Olimpic. Gagiano needs a great season for Rugby Roma Olimpic to secure a spot in the USA Eagles squad for New Zealand 2011. Of his ten test appearances, nine have been as a replacement.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Argentine National Rugby Union (UAR) have accepted a request from the Uruguayan National Rugby Union (URU) to have some Los Teros players and coaches participate in the High Performance Plan in Buenos Aires next week. The UAR's collaboration with Uruguay is part of Argentina rugby´s interest in promoting rugby development throughout the region. Moreover, this participation will provide Los Teros with better preperation ahead of their do or die home and away matches vs Romania in November. The winner will advance to Rugby World Cup 2011 as the 20th and final team. It is very good news for Uruguay and is an indicator that the UAR is taking appropriate leadership measures in the region. Their attitude is exactly what is needed for South American rugby and underlines the strength of Argentina´s potential candidacy to host Rugby World Cup 2023
In announcing plans, UAR presdient Luis Castillo said "We are very happy to collaborate with the national team of Uruguay. The UAR as an institution seeks growth of rugby in the region, not only Uruguay, but also with the rest of the countries of CONSUR."
Manuel Galindo, Chairman of the Subcommittee on High Performance Rugby added "We agreed to Uruguay´s request, with whom we share bonds of brotherhood. The UAR as a benchmark for the region has the obligation to promote the development of the game and we believe that providing our institutional support are contributing to their preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2011 Playoff."
National Director of High Performance Rugby and former Pumas coach, Marcelo Loffreda, said: "The idea is for the Uruguayans to be assisted in the activities performed by the senior players and for the coaches to see the training system and physical burdens and receive different information that may assist their preperations better."
Below is the list of Uruguayan players who will participate in the program:
1 Edgardo Benitez PLAYER
2 Ivo Dugonjic PLAYER
3 Gaston Mieres PLAYER
4 Leandro Leivas PLAYER
5 Corral, Alejo PLAYER
6 Juan De Freitas PLAYER
7 Emiliano Caffera PLAYER
8 Guillermo Selves PHYSICAL PREP
9 Sebastian Pineyro TRAINER
10 Bruno Grunwalt TRAINER
11 Matias Arocena PLAYER
12 Richard Fynn VIDEO ANALYST
Based on www.uar.com.ar
Friday, August 13, 2010
Rugby World Cup 1999 saw four teams added to bring the total number of competitors to twenty. The region of the Americas was allocated one more qualifying place which meant Argentina, Canada and the United States all qualified for the tournament. Uruguay also qualified, through repercharge to give the Americas a record four teams competiting at a Rugby World Cup.
Argentina were drawn in a pool with Japan, Samoa and Wales and needed to win two of these matches to advance to the play-off´s. Despite defeating Australia in 1997 and Scotland in 1999, Argentina were written off as contenders for a Quarter Final. Los Pumas simply did not have the respect of the global rugby public at this point in time. They were chosen to face tournament hosts, Wales in the opening fixture of Rugby World Cup 1999 because Samoa were considered a better side - having knocked Wales out of Rugby World Cup 1991.
Wales were expected to power past Los Pumas but Pumas flyhalf, Gonzalo Quesada had a great match with the boot which kept Argentina in touch throughout the match. Wales won 23–18. Argentina, thus needed to defeat both Samoa and Japan or be eliminated. Quesada again was superb with the boot kicking 27 points as Los Pumas defeated Samoa 32–16. Quesada´s dream run continued as he kicked 21 points as Los Pumas defeated Japan 33–12 to advance to the play-off´s. Argentina then went on to face Ireland in a Quarter-final play-off with the winner advancing to face France.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
In September and October 2009, Canada and the USA hosted the first ever Americas Rugby Championship which was specifically organized to provide leading American rugby countries with an opportunity of getting match ready to play at the top level. Six teams competed and were separated into two different stages. The first involved four teams, all Canadian who competed over a set of round-robin matches with the top two meeting again in the Final.
The four teams were organized geographically. The Pacific province of British Colombia, which is a stronghold of Canadian rugby, had a team based in the largest city, Vancouver. The team was called the BC Bears. Another strong Canadian province, Ontario was awarded its own team which went by the name of the Ontario Blues and was based in Canada´s largest city, Toronto. The name of another team was the Prairie Wolf Pack which was based in Calgary but was representing all three states located between British Colombia and Ontario - i.e. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Finally, there was an Atlantic selection which consisted of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Foundland & Labrador and Quebec. The team, known as The Rock, was based in St. Johns, New Foundland & Labrador.
The winner of the Canadian Final, which doubled as the first semi-final would go on to face the winner of the international semi-final match, between the other two teams in the tournament - the Argentina Jaguars and the USA Select XV. In the first semi-final Denver, Colorado played host to the USA Select XV vs Argentina Jaguars. It was a game to better understand the depth of both countries talent pools and to prepare for the November international window when the USA played home and away qualifying matches vs Uruguay and Argentina toured the United Kingdom.
The game was an 8 try to 1 thrashing in snowy conditions as one of Argentina's young talented flyhalves, Benjamin Urdapilleta, was able to control proceedings after his forwards overpowered the North Americans. Urdapilleta scored 22 points, including the games first try in the first minute of the match. When winger, Martin Bustos Moyano scored 6 minutes latter, the Jaguars were winning 12-0 and looking like running away with the game. The USA Select XV scored their first points through a penalty to San Francisco centre, Volney Rouse in the 13th minute but the resolve of the Jaguars was unchanged as promising second rower, Carlos Caceres scored a try two minutes latter which Urdapilleta converted and then kicked a penalty in the 23rd minute to give the visitors a 22-3 lead. USA Select XV's Outside centre, Corey Blair, scored the games next points when he scored the only try for the North Americans in the 29th minute. Rouse converted to encourage the home side but, again, with Jaguars players trying their best to impress the Pumas selectors, they scored two more first half tries with sevens star, and Jaguars centre Horacio San Martin scoring in the 32nd minute and backrower Leonardo Senatore in the 34th. Urdapilleta converted both.
The Jaguars scored 21 points in the second half with the backs again dominating. The first was scored by fullback, Lucas Berra Oro, in the 45th minute, the second by wing, Juan Imhoff and the third by replacement fullback, Federico Nicolas Sanchez 3 minutes from full time. The USA Select XV failed to score a point in the second half.
In the second semifinal the BC Bears completed a perfect season by defeating the Ontario Blues 12-8 at MacDonald Park in Victoria, BC to remain undefeated. It was a drastically different game to the first semifinal with only one try scored in a tight game dominated by the forwards and by kicking with plenty of highballs put up by both sides. The Blues had the better of play early on but the favourites showed just how good they are by not panicing and were able to control play as the game went on. The backs were not able to contribute to the game as the defense of both sides cancelled out both teams backlines. The defence was strong but came at a cost for the visitors as they gave away kickable penalties which ultimately cost them the match. Ontario Blues Flyhalf, Steve Piatek, summed it up well in saying “We did everything well, including giving up penalties. We’ll just have to take this into next week and prove we should’ve won today. It’s always fun to beat up on the Americans.”
The Blues scored the games first points as Piatek, kicked a first half penalty. Sadly, for his team it would be the only goal scored for Ontario. They scored the games only try early on in the game with centre, Mike Scholz scoring. The Bears were losing and needed to respond well in the second half. They did as Nathan Hirayama continued his good form to finish the game with four penalities to give the Bears victory and in doing so win the MacTier Cup as Canadian champions for 2009.
The finals can be seen on the video below. Ontario Blues won the Bronze final 27-24 vs the USA Select XV and the BC Bears were undone in losing 35-11 to the Argentina Jaguars.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
In 2006, Argentina defeated England in London for the first time in history. The win was another reminder of the level of Los Pumas and the need to get them into a regular top level competition such as the Tri Nations otr Six Nations. The fact that Argentina won vs England at Twickenham was amazing but to think that one week latter England would then defeat South Africa at the same venue was just as amazing. With this two things happened.
1. There could be no more doubt about the question of Argentina and the Tri Nations.
2. The world saw that there was a South American team that could defeat any other team in the Rugby World Cup that was to take place the following year.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Argentina´s largest stadium, River Plate Stadium, also known as the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, and El Monumental de Nuñez is an ideal venue to host a Rugby World Cup Final. It is considered to be the national stadium of Argentina and has an extensive history in hosting key sporting events in the country. It hosted nine matches at the 1978 FIFA World Cup with the capacity being 76,600. It also hosted matches for the 1987 Copa América including the final and will host matches for the 2011 Copa América which will be in Argentina. It is also the usual venue to host Argentina´s home soccer matches.
River Plate Stadium is no stranger to International Rugby either. Los Pumas have played three test matches at the venue. Following the success of Argentina at Rugby World Cup 1999, the UAR opted to utilize the country´s premier stadium to host matches vs the Southern Hemisphere´s big three. The first visitors were South Africa in November 2000 and they won the match 37-33. One year latter the All Blacks visited and won 24-20 after scoring a try with time up on the clock. Rugby World Cup Champions, Australia played the following year and won 17-6. Despite not winning any of the three matches, Argentina did very well as they were expected to be dominated in all three yet almost won two of the matches.
Argentina vs Australia, 2002 at River Plate Stadium
With Argentina set to enter the Tri Nations in 2012, River Plate Stadium, is bound to host more international rugby matches. Argentina received very strong crowds for all three of the matches played at the venue from 2000-2002. At this point in time Argentina were not considered as being a world power. Many considered Argentina as being slightly better than Fiji or Italy. Yet, the fans responded and they packed the country´s largest stadium. Since that time, Argentina have achieved even better results in both home and away matches. Attendances in Argentina are significantly better today than in the past. Argentina are now able to host matches anywhere in the country and attract strong crowds. The trend of moving matches around the country is certain to continue with Buenos Aires continuing to host the biggest match every year. Come Tri Nations 2012, River Plate Stadium is likely to host at least one test per year or more.
With a capacity of 66,449, River Plate Stadium is larger than Eden Park which at 60,000 will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final in addition to both semi-finals and five pool matches. Japan has announced plans to use Nissan Stadium in Yokohama as the base for Rugby World Cup 2019. It has a capacity of only 5,000 more than River Plate Stadium. Therefore as it stands, River Plate Stadium, is more than appropriate as acting as the base venue for Rugby World Cup 2023. Between now and then it could be upgraded to have a larger seating capacity and improved facilities.
Being able to host the premier rugby event in a country with such extensive accomplishments in hosting and winning the biggest soccer events would be a significant achievement for the sport in Argentina, in the Americas and, most importantly, globally. Argentina have achieved outstanding results and have attracted highly positive crowds for matches held across the country. In other words, the country has both necessary stadiums and home support to host a highly successful Rugby World Cup.
Buenos Aires is not only the country´s capital city but it is also centrally located which would make moving between cities an easier task than in a number of other Rugby World Cup´s. Argentina´s second largest city, Córdoba is 700KM north west of Buenos Aires and Argentina´s third largest, Rosario, is 300KM north-west of Buenos Aires. In addition, two other large venues certain to feature, La Plata and Mar del Plata, are located 60KM and 400KM from the capital. In 2006, President Néstor Kirchner announced plans to construct a Tren de Alta Velocidad –TAVe (high-speed electric train) system which will operate at 320 km/h linking these cities. When completed the travel time from Buenos Aires to Rosario will be 85 minutes, from Rosario to Córdoba 90 minutes and from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata will also take less than two hours.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Argentina has a total population of 41 million with 92% living in urban areas, of which the largest is the capital, Buenos Aires which is South America´s second largest city after Brazil´s São Paulo. Buenos Aires is the economic centre of the country and the transport hub for Argentina both domestically and internationally. The city is known as the Paris of South America due to its romantic charm, architecture and restaurants. The city would without doubt open up and welcome visitors and proudly host a Rugby World Cup.
With a population of 13 million and extensive rugby history it is the perfect base for a Rugby World Cup. Buenos Aires has the best tournament of any city in the world - URBA. It was created in 1899 making it one of the worlds oldest rugby competitions with 82 competing clubs spread over 4 groups with the best participating in the URBA Top 14. The size of the city and its numerous stadiums offer Argentina the opportunity of utilizing two venues should the country play host to a Rugby World Cup.
One of the two which should be used is the Estadio José Amalfitani, often referred to as Vélez Sarsfield Stadium. It has acted as a host venue for premier soccer events such as the 1978 FIFA World Cup, in which the stadium played host to three matches, and the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in which the stadium hosted the final and six other matches. It is commonly referred to as El Fortín (The Fort in English) by Argentinians but is widely known as Vélez Sarsfield outside of the country. It is a fantastic venue for international sport because of the close proximity of the fans to the field. A fullhouse crowd can make visiting teams feel like they are playing in a larger stadium.
The first international rugby match held at the stadium was Argentina vs France in 1986. Argentina won the match 15-13. In total, Argentina have hosted 29 test matches at the stadium and it has been the unofficial home of Los Pumas since 2003. It has hosted at least one test match per year during this period and has always been the venue for the match considered to be the biggest home match of the year. Los Pumas regularly fill the stadium.
Vélez Sarsfield has a current capacity of 49,540, making it a perfect venue to host matches should Argentina host Rugby World Cup 2023. It could be used to give Buenos Aires a second venue to support the cities premier stadium, the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, also known as River Plate Stadium which can fit around 17,000 more people. Rugby World Cup 2003 included Stadium Australia and the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney and Rugby World Cup 2007 used the Stade de France and Parc de Princes in Paris. New Zealand 2011 will feature Eden Park and North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. While England 2015 and Japan 2019 are both planning to use three stadiums in their respective capital´s, London and Tokyo. Vélez Sarsfield, like the Sydney Football Stadium and the Parc des Princes has an extensive history to merit being used as a second stadium for Buenos Aires should Rugby World Cup - Argentina 2023 become a reality. It is actually a larger venue than both. Like Parc des Princes it could host around 4 pool matches and push for a play-offs match such as the Bronze Final.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
As winners of the South And North American respective Round One qualification tournaments for Rugby World Cup 2011, Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago faced off in Round 2, which was called the Regional Champions Playoff. It would determine the team to join South American heavyweights, Chile and Uruguay in Round 3A, also known as the 2009 South America Consur A Championship.
In qualifying for the Regional Champions Playoff, Trinidad & Tobago had pulled off surprizing results against teams considered to be of a better quality such as Barbados and Guyana. In the qualification series for Rugby World Cup 2007, Trinidad & Tobago lost 25-13 to Barbados and 29-21 to Guyana. This meant that they were eliminated. Barbados went on to defeat Guyana to advance to the next round. Trinidad & Tobago turned around a 12 point loss to defeat Barbados by an incredible 56 points in 2008. They won their Quarter Finals match 39-12 vs the Cayman Islands before defeating Barbados 56-0 in the semi final and Guyana 40-24 in the final.
Brazil were equally impressive, also winning all their matches. They defeated Colombia 34-6, Venezuela 61-8, Peru 59-0 and Paraguay 15-6 to advance to face Trinidad & Tobago. In doing so, Brazil had established themselves as South America´s genuine fourth best rugby country as they had moved ahead of Paraguay after also winning in the previous year.
The Regional Champions Playoff match was played over two matches in a home and away series. The winner would advance to play against Chile and Uruguay in Round 3A, also known as the 2009 South America Consur A Championship. The first match was held at Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, Trinidad with Brazil winning the match 31-8. This meant that Trinidad & Tobago not only needed to win the second match but also needed to defeat Brazil by at least 24 points to win on aggregate. The match was held at the Estádio ADC Parahyba in São José dos Campos, Brazil and attracted a home crowd of 12,000. Brazil did not disappoint their home supporters in winning the match 24-12. The match was shown on ESPN in Brazil, which was a huge breakthrough fir rugby in the country. The city of São José dos Campos is Brazil´s strongest rugby town. The local club regularly wins state and national championships and is the largest provider of test players for the national team.
Short Documentary in Portuguese
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Argentina's rise to a world power began at Rugby World Cup 1999 when Argentina defeated Samoa, Japan and Ireland to qualify for the Quarter-Finals for the first time ever. But, before 1999 Argentina had already defeated some elite teams. The players from the history making team in 1999 had formed a strong team that defeated Australia in 1997 and went into Rugby World Cup 1999 after defeating Scotland 31-22 at the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield. Scotland, were European Champions having won the Five Nations and so in defeating the Scots away, Argentina were completing a great accomplishment.
Argentina returned to Murrayfield in 2001 and won 25-16, again in 2005 to win 23-19 and in 2009 to win 9-6. The win in 1999 was truely remarkable as it was an amateur side defeating a professional team. Since then, Argentina has been made up almost exclusively of professional players. Winning three in a row at Murrayfield is no easy task. The 2005 victory was a continuation of success from Los Pumas who had defeated France in Marseilles in 2004 and drawn with the Lions in Cardiff six months earlier.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Located in Buenos Aires province, the city of Bahía Blanca is capable of acting as a host city for Rugby World Cup matches. Despite not being one of Argentina's ten largest cities, Bahía Blanca is an appealing option as a host venue because of its attractions, size and location. The greater city area, known as Gran Bahía Blanca, has a population of 304,000 making it larger than 9 of the 13 cities to be used for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.
The city is located 575KM south of Buenos Aires and 580KM north of Puerto Madryn placing it perfectly in between both. It is also on the main route between the two cities and is located 420KM west of a city certain to host matches - Mar del Plata. The three cities of Bahia Blanca, Mar del Plata and Puerto Madryn provide Argentina with the opportunity to showcase what the southern half of the country has to offer. This is, afterall, the philosophy of hosting a Rugby World Cup - spreading matches around the country as much as possible.
The largest stadium in Bahía Blanca, the Estadio Roberto Natalio Carminatti, also known as the Estadio Aurinegro was constructed in 1942 and has a seating capacity at present of 20,000. It is the home of Argentine soccer Premier Division side, Olimpio. At present it is of a similar size to a number of venues that will be used in New Zealand 2011, making it a realistic option to be explored should Rugby World Cup 2023 be hosted in Argentina. It could act in a similar capacity to Invercargill which is to host two matches at Rugby World Cup 2011. Teams playing at Bahía Blanca could have their schedules easily organized so that they arrive from their previous match at Buenos Aires, La Plata, Mar del Plata or Puerto Madryn. Similarily, they could play their following fixture at one of these venues.
Although, test rugby has never been played in Bahía Blanca, the city is the home of the Unión de Rugby del Sur (URS), or the Southern Rugby Union in English. The city has also contributed to rugby at the highest level. It has produced international rugby players including Glasgow Warriors fullback, Bernardo Stortoni who made his last appearance for Los Pumas in 2008.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
It is not only the quality of Argentine players in Europe that is noticeable but it is also the quantity. North Italy´s famous city of Venice will have four players from Argentina for the 2010-2011 season, yet none of them have ever represented Argentina and none of them are likely to ever do so. In addition to being the home of Uruguayan prop Sebastian Levaggi, Venezia Mestre Rugby will also feature an Argentine front rower - Leandro Mario Assi. Assi is a nationalized Italian but was born in Rosario not in Italy. He will be playing prop / hooker for the club.
In addition to the South American pair in the front row, the club will also have Córdoba´s backrower, Lucas Paschini , scrum-half Lucio Prati and fullback Carlos Ignácio Stodart for the 2010-2011 season.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
One of South Americas newest and most impressive stadiums is the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata. It was selected as a key venue for the 2011 Copa América and will host the opening match of the tournament. The stadium opened in 2003 with Argentina playing host to Uruguay in a friendly soccer match. It has not played host to international rugby yet but is certain to do so with Argentina entering The Rugby Championship in 2012. The stadium has been chosen to host Argentina vs New Zealand in September 2012. The city, however, has played host to a number of important rugby fixtures such as Argentina A vs France in June 2010 and the 2010 URBA Final. The city has produced a number of international rugby players including Federico Martín Aramburu and Mariano Galarza.
The Estadio Ciudad de La Plata has a seating capacity of 53,000 making it larger than twelve of the thirteen venues selected to host Quarter-Finals for Rugby World Cup 2011 and eight of the ten French stadiums used for Rugby World Cup 2007. Its size and modernity makes it an ideal venue to host Rugby World Cup matches. Should Argentina bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023, La Plata could host at least four pool matches and at least one Quarter-Final.
It appears to be a very similar stadium to Loftus Versfeld Stadium (51,000) in Pretoria, South Africa which hosted five matches at Rugby World Cup 1995, including one Quarter Final and the Bronze Final. It also hosted six matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Like Pretoria, La Plata is located close to the country´s largest city. Pretoria is located 53KM from Johannesburg and La Plata is 60KM from Buenos Aires. In addition to Pretoria, two different stadiums from Johannesburg were used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Should Argentina 2023 become a reality, the idea should be to do exactly the same thing with Buenos Aires having two stadiums and La Plata one.
La Plata is Argentina´s sixth largest city with a population of 732,000 and is the capital city of the province of Buenos Aires. It was founded on November 19, 1882 by Dardo Rocha to be the headquarters of the provincial government so that it could be recognized separately from the city of Buenos Aires which is the country´s federal district. La Plata is also home to Argentina´s largest cathedral and one of the country´s best universties, the Universidad Nacional de La Plata which President Cristina Fernández de Kircher graduated in Law as did her husband and previous Argentina President, Nestór Kirchner. La Plata means silver in Spanish.
La Plata is located 60KM east of Buenos Aires making it an easy place to get to. The world class Estadio Ciudad de La Plata would be a perfect stadium to host Rugby World Cup matches.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
2009-2010 Top 14 Champions, Association Sportive Montferrandaise Clermont Auvergne, or simply Clermont, will have two familiar Pumas faces in their squad again for the 2010-2011 season. Hooker, Mario Ledesma Arocena will be playing his 6th season for Clermont. Ledesma previously played for Castres from 2003-2005 and for Narbonne from 2001-2003. This season is likely to be his last as he signed an extention for one year. Ledesma is aged 37 and will be 38 for Rugby World Cup 2011. Age, it seems, is not a concern of Ledesma, Clermont or Argentina. He continues to perform well and looks certain to be hooker for club and country like always.
Ledesma made his test debut in 1996 vs Uruguay and has played 76 tests for Argentina. The lack of tests Argentina recieve is telling as he would have played over 150 tests if Argentina were to receive the same number of international matches as the likes of Australia, England, Ireland or New Zealand. In other words, Ledesma would hold the World Record for most test appearances. He has played in three Rugby World Cup´s and is dead set on playing in a fourth and even has a desire to play in Argentina´s debut season in the Tri Nations in 2012. Ledesma had the honor of captaining Argentina vs Japan in 1998.
Mario Ledesma will be joined for another season by fellow Pumas veteran, Martín Scelzo who unlike Ledesma, is a European Champion as he won the Heineken Cup for English club Northampton. Scelzo has played 51 tests for Argentina since making his debut in 1996 vs the USA. He has been a long time servant for Los Pumas but has missed a lot of matches through injury and competition for a place in the side. He plays tight-head prop which is traditionally a position in which Argentina are able to dominante their opposition. Like team mate Ledesma, Scelzo is targetting a fourth Rugby World Cup and is guaranteed to be selected. Scelzo has scored 10 tries for Los Pumas which is very high for a prop.
Monday, August 2, 2010
When the British and Irish Lions scheduled a match in Cardiff vs Argentina as preperation for their 2005 tour of New Zealand, nobody gave Los Pumas a chance. The combination of the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were expected to be far too strong for the South Americans. It was an arrogant attitude but one with more justification because of when the match took place.
It took place in May, outside of the mandatory releasing period for international matches. Argentina, were thus, without a large number of international players. To complicate matters further the match took place on the same weekend as the 2004-2005 Heineken Cup Final. Who was in the Heineken Cup final? Stade Français and Toulouse - two teams with many Pumas players such as: Borges, Corleto, Hasan, Hernández, Pichot e Roncero. but, because of when the match occured most clubs, in general simply refused to release Argentine players for the match. Argentina were without an estimated 26 players. Despite this, Los Pumas played very well and drew the match. It was a fantastic achievement and one with a telling lesson for the British and Irish Lions. It was concrete evidence that Argentina is a global rugby power.