Sunday, December 9, 2012

Amlin Challenge Cup - Round 3 Wrap

Pool 1
Bordeaux-Begles 13-20 Mont de Marsan
Both sides are in danger of being relegated from the Top 14. Bordeaux-Begles sit in twelve position while Mont de Marsan is bottom of the table and looking certain to be relegated. With the Top 14 taking priority for Bordeaux Begles the club fielded a weakened side in losing against Mont de Marsan.  Former Argentine winger Rafael Carballo made his comeback for the club, starting on the left wing.  

London Irish 22-29 Gloucester
London Irish has been playing some poor rugby this season. The loss of players to rival clubs and to France has dramatically changed the team which almost won the English Premiership Final several years ago. It is near the bottom of the standings in the 2012-2013 Aviva Premiership and, indeed, needs to win to save its season. It is currently safe though as the Sale Sharks have only won match in the Premiership all season. The loss will be good for the club to focus all its efforts on the Aviva Premiership. Canadian forward Jebb Sinclair was rested for this match.  

Pool 1 Standings
1 Gloucester13
2 London Irish 11
3 Mont de Marsan 5
4 Bordeaux Begles 1

Pool 2
Worcester Warriors 22-21 Perpignan 
The French clubs loss complicated its chances of reaching the Quarter Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup. Worcester is three points clear and should now be considered favorite to advance. 

Bizkaia Gernika RT 13-3 Rovigo
A good result for Spanish rugby as the team from the Spanish Basque city of Guernica defeated an Italian side. The match featured Argentine players with Federico Mazzochi, Alessandro Torres Suar and Fernando Iraizoz all getting game time. The retun match next weekend should be interesting. 

Pool 2 Standings
1 Worcester 14
2 Perpignan 11
Bizkaia Gernika RT  4
4 Rovigo 0 

Pool 3
Mogliano 0-31 Newport Gwent Dragons
The Welsh region completed its first win in this seasons Amlin Challenge Cup with an impressive display against Italian side Mogliano. The bonus point win is nothing but a concilation however as the Dragons are too far off the pace to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Quarter Finals. Former Pumas hooker Agustín Costa Repetto started for the Italians. He played once for Argentina - in 2005 against Samoa.

Bayonne 13-13 London Wasps

A dramatic draw in the Basque country should be enough to see the London Wasps finish the pool in first place to advance to the Quarter Finals. 

Pool 3 Standings
1 London Wasps 12
2 Bayonne 11
3 Dragons 6
4 Mogliano 0 

Pool 4
Bucuresti 25-22 Agen
A highly impresseive win for the Romanian side underlines the benefits of the Amlin Challenge Cup as a developing competition. Agen was not at full strength as the French club rested a number of players due to the need to focus on the Top 14. Agen is currently facing relegation to the second division. The club was without Pumas secondrower Esteban Lozada but features two backs with former international centre Miguel Avramovic starting in the midfield. He was joined by Belisario Agulla who was a try scorer. 

Bath 67-11 Calvisano
A highly impressive display for Argentine international winger Horacio Agulla saw the Puma score two tries playing at outside centre for Bath. Given the options available to Santiago Phelan it is likely that Agulla´s future as a test player will not be on the wing. The Argentine-Italian Pablo Canavosio played on the wing for Calvisano. He played for Italy at Rugby World Cup 2011.

Pool 4 Standings
1 Bath 15
2 Bucharest 9 
3 Agen 7
4 Calvisano 2

Pool 5
Grenoble 20-9 London Welsh
Last season both these teams were playing second division rugby. Grenoble won promotion to the Top 14 after winning the Pro d2 while London Welsh won the RFU Championship to win promotion to the Aviva Premiership. So far both teams have been doing quite well with neither currently facing any real danger of being relegated. Their clash in the French Alps on Friday featured a Puma and a Canadian back. Joaquín Tuculet started at fullback for the French side while Phil MacKenzie played on the wing for London Welsh. Both players are likely to be playing at Rugby World Cup 2015.

Cavalieri Prato 23-37 Stade Français Paris
One of the strongest contenders to win the Amlin Challenge Cup is Stade Français Paris. The French club looks to all but have wrapped up Pool 5 and it will take something special from Grenoble to change this. 24 year old uncapped Argentine Lisandro Gomez Lopez started at outside centre for the Parisians. A second uncapped Puma was involved for Paris as secondrower Juan Cruz Guillemain was a 69th minute replacement. The Italian side Agustín Cavalieri on the bench. 

Pool 5 Standings
1 Paris 14
2 Grenoble 10
3 London Welsh 4
4 Cavalieri Prato 0

Worcester v Perpignan


  1. Italian teams must be cut out of this competition.

    The Romanian side Bucharest Wolves beat the Italian champions Calvisano, and now the Spanish side who actually finished mid table in the Spanish league last season and qualified by default as the teams above couldn't afford to play beat Rovigo.

    The places of the Italian teams should be taken by Georgian, Russian and Portuguese side, all of whom are keen to enter but are being denied by the slow ERC.

    Having Italian teams in the competition is the equivalent of having Principality Premiership or Scottish League teams playing.

    1. Without question changes need to be discussed and made. Clearly the Italian sides are getting nothing out of playing in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Neither is the FIR or the national team. A new competition with Georgia, Portugal, Russia and Spain (differntly thatn at present) all involved would be tremendous.

      Romania´s model of having a combined team made up of players from a variety of Romanian teams could be a useful guide to others, Italy included.The places of Cavalieri, Calvisano, Mogliano and Bizkaia Gernika could go to combined teams from ENC nations to match Romania. I am sure this would see a superior Italian side, and maybe one that could compete.