Wednesday, October 19, 2011

LV=Cup - Round One

This past weekend saw the first round of the 2011-2012 Anglo-Welsh Cup, now known as the LV= Cup due to commercial reasons. The competition is made up of English and Welsh teams split into four pools or four teams. All twelve Aviva Premiership clubs and four Welsh regions are the competitors. It is a secondary competition in that England has its own domestic competition, the Aviva Premiership and Wales participates in the Pro 12. Due to Rugby World Cup 2011 the teams played round one without their full rosters avaliable as England had played France in a Quarter Final the previous weekend and Wales were facing France during round one of the LV= Cup. The competition involves players from the Americas with Argentina, Canada and the United States of America all having international players who are to play in this seasons event. It is a further indication of the contribution of the region to the global game and underlines the strength of having Argentina host Rugby World Cup 2023. In the history of the Rugby World Cup no other country has made the semi finals and not hosted, or sub-hosted a World Cup.

Two teams who were both significantly depleted due to the unavaliability of players were Welsh side, Scarlets and English team the Leicester Tigers.  Their clash in the western Welsh city of Llanelli featured two sides of players who recieve little game time during the regular season. The home side was, nonetheless, far better and demolished the Tigers 31-3 Scarlets 31. Leicester are unlikely to be defeated by such a scoreline again this season and are expected to have back Argentine international loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza and Argentine international winger Horacio Agulla for next weeks action.

Fellow Welsh region and Scarlets´ neighbours, the Ospreys did not do as well in their round one mactn vs English side the Exeter Chiefs in Exeter on Saturday. Neither side was at full strength but the English team had a great day and the Welsh are forgettable one as Exeter won the match 35-9. Argentine international winger, Gonzalo Camacho did not play for the Chiefs due to his involvement in Rugby World Cup 2011 but he is expected to debut for the club shortly. The teams in-form Argentine flyhalf, Ignacio Mieres did not play in the match. The Ospreys´ new recruit, Canadian international backrower, Chauncey O´Toole is also expected to debut soon following the a short break after the conclusion of Canada´s Rugby World Cup campaign.

Last season Northern English club, the Newcastle Falcons fought until the death to avoid relegation to Englands second division. The club is the former home of both English World Cup flyhalves, Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood, but no players in England´s World Cup squad play for Newcastle nowadays. Of all twenty teams at New Zealand 2011 only two had players from the club with Samoa´s Taiasina Tuifu´a and Scotland´s Euan Murray. The clubs first round opposition in the LV= Cup was the Cardiff Blues, a side missing six players to World Cup duty for Wales, one to Scotland and one to Tonga. The scoreline was a reflection of the loss felt by the unavaliability of players with Newcastle winning 33-3.

Neither Gloucester nor the Sale Sharks could complain to loudly of missing players and their match at Gloucester was easily the highest points scoring match of the round. Gloucester were very impressive in winning the match 58-27. Interestingly, the match was 20-17 at the interval. Former Argentine international hooker, Matías Cortese was in the starting lineup for Gloucester but uncapped Argentine fullback, Joaquín Tuculet, did not feature for the Sale Sharks as he missed the match through injury.

The closest match of the round took place in western England with the nwely-promotted Worcester Warriors playing host to last seasons surprize strugglers, the London Wasps. The home side gave its fans plenty to cheer about as it pulled off a 20-19 victory. The London based side featured new recruit, Guillermo Roan who has arrived in England from Argentina with the chance of improving as a player and breaking into the Pumas squad. He was on the bench for the London Wasps.

The battle of London took place at the Twickenham Stoop with the home side, the Harlequins notching up a 26-19 victory over the London Irish Exiles. The match was a nail-biter, with the teams tied at 19-19 before the Quins were able to get the lead and win the match. The one time capped Argentine international flyhalf, Benjamin Urdapilleta played the full eighty minutes for the Harlequins and had a highly memorable match in scoring a try. He did well, despite playing out of position at centre. The change of position seems to have worked for him and it might well be where his future lies as the club is home to former All Blacks flyhalf, Nick Evans and Rory Clegg who scored 16 points in the Quins victory.

Beaten 2011 Heineken Cup finalists, the Northampton Saints were highly impressive in their home fixture vs 2011 Aviva Premiership Champions, Saracens. The Saints left a clear message for rival teams that they really mean business as they smashed the English champions, 36-6. The star for the winners was the teams new signing over the summer, Russian international winger, Vasily Artemyev who amazingly scored a hat-tirck on debut. His debut was as good as it gets as he went over with his first touch of the ball ever in a club match for Northampton. USA international secondrower, Hayden Smith was on the bench for Saracens but his international teammate, Chris Wyles did not feature. The Saints own USA secondrower, Samu Manoa, also missed the match.

The traditional strugglers from Wales, the Newport Gwent Dragons have prodeuced a number of impressive players in recent seasons with Wales´ impressive backrower,. Toby Faletau being one such example. He missed the match vs Bath in Newport on the weekend due to his invovlementnin the heart-breaking 9-8 loss to France in Auckland. It didn´t get any better for Newport Gwent Dragons fans as the home side were outclassed 46-16 by their English rivals. Former Argentine international secondrower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe, did not play for Bath.

1 comment:

  1. Fernández Lobbe is no longer at Bath