Saturday, December 1, 2012

Argentina Rugby 2013

Photo: UAR Rodrigo Vergara
Although the November Internationals have come and gone they are in fact not over as today will  feature two test matches counting towards the all important IRB World Rankings. Argentina´s record loss against Ireland saw the team tied with Samoa but the Pacific Islands have been considered superior due to 15 decimal points. As such Argentina is ranked 9th, Samoa 8th and Wales 7th. Finishing this weekend in 7th in Wales´s goal as it will ensure a better draw for Rugby World Cup 2015. However, Wales´s form has been poor in November and the European Champions have lost six matches in a row, including three against Australia in June. Australia enter today´s match as favorites and a win will see Argentina return to the Top 8 at the expense of Wales. Today´s aother match sees England host New Zealand but neither team´s position on Band a and Band 2 will be changed regardless of the result. 

The draw for Rugby World Cup 2015 will be made on Monday as the IRB continues its policy of giving the host nation what is virtually three years to prepare everything knowing who is in which pool.  Teams will play 2013 knowing their opponents and it will be certain to influence how teams play. Argentina´s year will be similar to that of 2012 in that it will feature matches in the South American Championship followed by a three match home series in June, The Rugby Championship from August through October and a three match European tour in November. The UAR is yet to announce the schedule although it is not altogether unknown. It has been known for quite some time that England will be touring Argentina for a test series in June 2012 and more recently it emerged that Georgia will be touring South America. As such England would be likely to replicate France in 2012 which faced Argentina in two tests while Georgia would replicate Italy which played one test in Argentina and then two others elsewhere in the Americas. Italy played against Canada and the USA while Georgia looks set to face Uruguay and Chile. 

New Zealand has confirmed its home test against Argentina for September 07 at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. It will be New Zealand´s second home test of the tournament. The calendar for The Rugby Championship has also not been finalized but it looks like being quite similar to that of 2012. New Zealand´s three home matches have been confirmed for August 24, September 07 and September 14 and as such it would appear that the first two rounds were played on August 17 and 24. Argentina would therefore again face South Africa twice to open the tournament with a change likely to see Argentina hosting South Africa before playing the Springboks away. The tournament would then have a bye on the weekend of August 31 with Argentina flying to Oceania to face the All Blacks on September 07 and the Wallabies on September 14. Argentina would then return home and after a bye weekend on Septemebr 21 it would host Australia and New Zealand on Sptember 28 and October 05. 

England has confirmed a three match home series for November 2013 with the 2003 World Champions hosting Ausralia, Argentina and New Zealand on consecutive Saturday´s. It will likely be Argentina´s first of three matches with the two other opponents not being difficult to predict. Given that Europe has the Six Nations and that Argentina faced three in Europe in 2012 it is likely that Argentina will face the three others in November 2013. Of the three Argentina has not played against two of them in Europe since 2009 (England and Scotland) which further suggests that Argentina will have a match against Scotland added to its November tour. The third would be against Italy. Should this be the tour then it would be a noticably easier one than that of 2012 given that Scotland and Italy are both Band 3 ranked nations and England is a Band 2 compared to France which is a Band 1 nation. It would allow for greater experimentation from Santiago Phelan to have a better prepared team for Rugby World Cup 2015. 

Italy would likely stage the match outside of Rome. It has been customary for teams to play in a variety of cities in November. In addition to Rome, over the past decade Argentina has faced Italy in Genoa,  Torino and Verona. Argentina will also use a variety of venues for its six home tests in 2013. The UAR was happy with all three of Mendoza, La Plata and Rosario in The Rugby Championship while both Córdoba and Tucumán had strong crowds against France in June. It is likely that Córdoba will host either Australia or South Africa while Santa Fé could very well host the other and New Zealand is likely to play again in La Plata. The UAR could gave Georgia play in a city such as Resistencia or Salta and England potentially in two of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Rosario and Tucumán. 

Potential Schedule for 2013
June
June 08 Argentina v Georgia
June 15 Argentina v England
June 22 Argentina v England

The Rugby Championship
August 17 Argentina v South Africa
August 24 South Africa v Argentina
August 31 Bye
September  07 New Zealand v Argentina
September 14 Australia v Argentina
September 21 Bye
September 28 Argentina v Australia
October 05 Argentina v New Zealand

November
November 09 England v Argentina
November 16 Italy v Argentina
November 23 Scotland v Argentina

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