Saturday, March 31, 2012

The NTT Shining Arcs sign Todd Clever

USA Eagles backrower and captain, Todd Clever is to stay in Japan to continue his professional career after having signed a contract to play for the NTT Shining Arcs in the Japanese Top League. His two year contract with Suntory Sungoliath has done its course and his profile, following two solid seasons in Japan and performances for the United Sates of America has seen his name grow to the extent that he was able to negotiate a better paid deal. 

Rugby Site, Rugbymag quotes Clever as saying "I had a couple great season with Suntory Sungoliath winning both Top League and Japan Cup Trophies. I am leaving on good terms and will remain close to the Suntory Family," Clever said in a statement released on his website. "I had a tough decision to make on where I was going to play next year, a lot of things played factor in my signing with NTT. I am happy with all the terms and look forward to joining my new team."

NTT Shining Arcs RFC is owned by NTT Communications and is part of Japan's Top League Competition. The current coach is Masato Hayashi, The team is based in Ichikawa city, Chiba. The ShiningArcs won promotion to the expanded Top League of 14 teams at the end of the 2009-10 season. Clever will join Isaac Ross from New Zealand and  Darren Murphy from Australia. Other signings are expected at NTT.

The Shining Arcs finished 9th in the Top League this season. Clever is expected to join the team for the Japan Cup knockout competition this spring. It is to be his third club as a professional after previously having lpayed Super Rugby in South Africa with the Lions before joining Suntory Sungoliath.

Source: Rugbymag

England vs USA - Rugby World Cup 2007

Lens, France before the match

When the reigning champions from Rugby World Cup 2003, England, were made aware that they would be starting their title defence agaisnt the United States of America in the French city of Lens rugby fans and journalists alike were suer that not only would it be a safe warm-up match before facing South Africa the following weekend, but also a simple victory. England were expected to knock over the USA Eagles and pick up a bonus point, and likely do so before the half time interval. The USA, however, made sure England had to work as hard as possible to collect the victory. When the final whistle blew, the USA left the park having accomplished its mission. England, in contrast, tried its best to avoid being torn apart from the global rugby media as the Europeans failed to secure a bonus point and the 29-10 victory was hardly what had been predicted in the lead up to the World Cup. 

Jason Robinson scores vs the USA
Such is the differing goals of teams from the First Tier to that of the Second that generally speaking, matches such as England vs the USA are used for motives other than achieving victory for the weaker side. This does not mean that the USA did not go out to win the match but, rather, that the desire of competiting well against an elite side, in this case World Champions, and doing so for 80 minutes was ultimately what coach Peter Thorburn was looking for from his players. He was not let down as a young American team featuring players who have gone on to be key players really performed well. The likes of Todd Clever, Lou Stanfill, Taku Ngwenya and Chris Wyles were all inexperienced players in the starting XV. All of them were playing in the USA or in the lower divisions of professional rugby in 2007 but have since moved on to bigger things and have become names known to the global rugby audience. Just three weeks latter Ngwenya showed how good he is as the USA took on South Africa and he scored the try of the World Cup. The players are a strong indication of what is possible if a country´s leading players can be exposed to professional rugby. Should the USA go ahead and create a professional league in part, or across the country, possibly with Canada then its development will continue and it could be a World Cup Quarter Finalist in quick time. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mexico vs Jamaica - 2023 implications

The need to have the Americas host Rugby World Cup 2015 was further underlined last weekend as Mexico City was the venue for the first qualifying match for Rugby World Cup 2015. Mexico was playing its first match since officially entering the IRB World Rankings.

The 2015 tournament will take place in England with the Welsh capital, Cardiff, acting as a subhost. Despite not being restricted to English territory, it is being billed as England 2015. It is to be the third time that World Cup matches will have been played in England and the fourth time that matches have ben played in Wales.

Such is the lack of global scope that has been the history of the Rugby World Cup with the same Tier One sides always hosting and, even subhosting. Every second World Cup, including 2015, has been hosted in Europe and each time Cardiff has hosted matches. The Americas, in contrast, has never hosted and following Japan 2019 it will be the only remaining continent to never have hosted a World Cup tournament.

World Cup 2003 winner, Lawrence Dallaglio was in Mexico City to promote England 2015. he was joined by the William Webb Ellis Trophy and the man responsible for the onfield action was World Cup 2011 Final  referee, Craig Joubert. The IRB´s off-field chief was also there as IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset was amongst the 2,000 supporters at the venue. The IRB, had therefore invested extensive resources in promotting the match and the governing body of world rugby should certainly be in full support of Argentina 2023 as the best option, certainly ahead of the likely opposition of South Africa and a Celtic bid. 

Leonardo Senatore returns for Toulon

Leonardo Vincente SENATORE
Leonardo Senatore
Leonardo Senatore will return to Toulon´s lineup for Saturday´s match vs Brive at the Stade Amédée-Domenech. He announced his delight at returning for the third placed Top 14 Orange club on twitter and hopes to face-off against his Pumas teammate, Agustín Figuerola. The Argentine backrower has been on the sidelines for Toulon due to the return of captain, Joe van Niekerk from injury. His match vs Brive has been rumoured, in French sources, as being his last due to the complettion of the rehabilitation process of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who has been on the sidelines all season after seriously injurying his knee vs Scotland in September.

Toulon will not be resigning Senatore for next season and the Pumas backrower´s contract as a meical joker could come to an end following this weekends match vs Brive. Should this, indeed, be Senatore´s final match then he will be flown to South Africa to link up with Los Pampas XV. Despite not being of the same callibre, more game time in the Vodacom Cup would be to the advantage of Senatore and Los Pumas as the backrower is a certainty to feature in the June internationals vs Italy and France.

Fernández - Bustos Moyano - González Amorosino Try vs Castres

Last weekend Montpellier was defeated by Castres in an away Top 14 Orange match. The result means Castres go ahead of Montpellier on the table but changes little for either side as neither are likely to catch the top two sides of Toulouse and Clermont and will, therefore, play in the barrage round of the French Top 14 play-offs should they finish in the top six. Castres' win was stereotypical with the home side getting home thanks to its goalkicking while Montpellier continued to show a lot of flair with the team looking more solid than last year when it finished second after appearing in the Top 14 Semi Finals and Final for the first time in history.

One player who has contributed significantly to the club's season is Los Pumas' fullback, Lucas González Amorosino who has had many in France calling him the best 15 in the country. His try vs Castres last Saturday, his fifth of the Top 14, was another featuring lightening pace as he was too fast for the French speedster, Marc Andreu. The try was a piece of Pumas brilliance as Santiago Fernández, playing at inside centre chased through an up-and-under, caught it and passed it to a third Argentine player, right winger Martín Bustos Moyano. The number 14 stepped inside a tackler and opened up space down the right-hand touchline as he drew the first Castres defender before passing it to González Amorosino who ran 40 metres to score. All three players have been regular starters for Montpellier all season and all will feature for Los Pumas in 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

La Plata to host a leg of IRB World Sevens Series

The Estádio Ciudad de La Plata, located in the capital of Buenos Aires province, La Plata is proving to be the unofficial new home of Argentine rugby. The stadium will host Argentina´s home international vs the All Blacks this year and according to key sources the venue will host a leg of the IRB World Sevens Series starting in 2013. With a capacity of 53,000 and state of the art facilities the venue is fast becoming Argentina´s premier stadium and doing so while Buenos Aires is going without matches. This is true in soccer as much as rugby as it hosted the final of the 2011 Copa America. 

At a conference in Buenos Aires yesterday organized by Agustín Pichot it became clear that the IRB has confirmed and will soon make it official that La Plata will host a leg of the IRB World Sevens Series in 2013.  It is a part of the extension which is underway that will see Tokyo host a leg this coming weekend. The inclusion of La Plata means that now every continent will now host at least one leg. The IRB´s region of the Americas will have two with Las Vegas, Nevada hosting the other. The new stadium in La Plata has, therefore, been favored over the option of Mar del Plata which has made an official bid for the event.

Amongst other details to emerge from the conference was the UAR´s push for an Argentine team to enter Super Rugby. The idea being for Los Pampas XV, reinforced with star players based in Europe, to play Super Rugby. The IRB has been wanting Argentina to creaet a domestic professional competition, somehting that Pichot says Argentina is not suited to. For the time being, at least, it would not be likely to be the best path to take. 

Taku Ngwenya Magic vs Lyon

Biarritz´s dreadful season looks to be over as the Basque club´s survival in the French Top 14 now looks to have been confirmed. The club was at the bottom of the standings for much of this season after it opted to not sign medial jokers during the World Cup which left the team with a severely weakened squad. Amongst the missing players were players involved in the World Cup for France and Argentina and  Takudzwa Ngwenya who had a quiet World Cup for the United States of America. Against form and predictions, Ngwenya failed to score a try at the World Cup as the USA, as despite pushing Italy and Ireland hard and defeating Russia the North Americans only scored four tries in the tournament.

Since his return from New Zealand, Ngwenya has performed to a high standard. Ngwenya scored his first try of the season in the first weekend after the end of the World Cup in a home Heineken Cup match vs English side and reigning Aviva Premiership Champions, Saracens. In late January he ran in three tries vs Welsh region, the Ospreys. he has also scored some great tries in the Top 14 Orange this season such as finishing off what has been one of the best tries this season vs Montpellier in December. This past weekend he scored for the second time in as many matches as he had a superb match vs the bottom placed Lyon OU. Ngwenya finished off a great break from former French international centre, Damien Traille to go over in the left corner. He was breaking the line at will in general play as the USA Eagles flyer could came close to creating multiple tries for his colleagues only for the support to be lacking when it mattered. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Argentines leave Agen Thunderstruck in Le Mans

Stade Français home win this past weekend at the Stade MM Arena in Paris was another example of the force of Argentina in French rugby as the 34 year old Pumas captain, Felipe Contepomi scored 26 points, including two tries and was joined by Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga and the Argentine-Italian, Sergio Parisse on the scores sheet for Stade Français. On the other side of the coin, Belisario Agulla scored Agen´s first try of the match. Contepomi had a solid match as a playmaker as did Rodríguez Gurruchaga with both players creating opportunities for their colleagues and breaking the defensive line themselves. Though it would mean changes, the Parisian 10-12 combination does stand a chance of being used by Santiago Phelan this year.

The match was played in front of a big crowd at the Stade MM Arena in Le Mans located near the city of Nantes which hosted three matches at Rugby World Cup 2007. The region has no teams in the Top 14 with Paris and La Rochelle being the closest teams. La Rochelle is fighting to return to the Top 14 from the Pro d2 after finishing 13th last season in Fracne´s Top flight.

The official website of Stade Français posted a highlights video of the match featuring the song Thunderstruck by ACDC. The music captures the performance of the Parisians who look certain to feature in the Top14 play-off´s after being absent for the past two years. The man at the helm of the teams turnaround has been Contepomi who is going against age and showing Toulon how poorly he was used by his former club. 

Les temps forts de Stade Français Paris - Agen - Stade TV
Retrouvez les temps forts du match Stade Français Paris - Agen au MMArena à l'occasion de la 21ème journée du TOP 14 Orange. 

Wales vs Canada 1993

The recently crowned Grand Slam Champions of Europe, Wales were one team that was defeated at the hands of Canada in the 1990´s. Canadian rugby was on a high in the latter stages of the days of amateurism and backed up its appearance at the Quarter Finals stage of Rugby World Cup 1991 with some impressive results in the following years. In Rugby World Cup 1991 Canada had impressed in defeating Fiji and Romania and gave France a good match before losing. It was, nevertheless, enough to advance and Canada faced New Zealand in the Quarter Finals, giving the All Blacks a good run for their money. Rugby purists the world over are well aware of Canada´s appearance at the Quarter Finals stage and it is used as a marker to show that Canada is a proud rugby country that has achieved on the greatest stage of them all. 

Al Charron, RWC 2003 Captain
Canada´s biggest accomplishments, possibly of all time, were not in 1991, however. Rather, the year 1993 is one which to this day has been Canada´s finest hour. Canada hosted England while the Lions were touring New Zealand and as such, the RFU requested that the match not be termed an international and had England play under the name of England XV. It was, in effect, a strategy utilized to make it a win-win situation for England. Should England lose they could blame it on the Lions and claim it was just a training match. A win, in contrast, would be a way of saying England´s depth is strong and formidable. The cover that this provided worked out in England´s favor as Canada´s 15-12 win at Burnaby Lake has gone down in history as being a non-international. Latter that year, Canada were not denied a famous win on a techinicality, however as Wales defeated Wales 26-24 in Cardiff thanks to a late try to Al Charron to claim what, to this day, remains Canada´s greatest triumph. The match took place at the venue that has since been upgraded and renamed as the Millenium Stadium. Not only did Canada win in Wales but the home side was unable to score a try with Neil Jenkins´ boot being responsible for all of the Welsh points. 

Gareth Rees, RWC 1995 / 1999 Captain
The following year, Canada continued to impress with the North Americans completing an 18-16 home victory in Nepean over France with IRB Hall of Famer, Gareth Rees kicking the Canadians to victory. During this period, Canada was also significantly better than its North American counterpart, the USA with Canada regularly winning the matches and doing so by comfortable margins. Canada was also too strong for Japan and completed a good 22-10 win over Fiji in Nadi in 1995. Being drawn with both Australia and South Africa at Rugby World Cup 1995 meant Canada´s chances of advancing to the Quarter Finals were extremely difficult and this proved to be the reality despite Canada giving both teams strong matches. From there things became tougher and tougher for Canada as the advent of professional rugby lifted the level of all teams who exposed their players to professionalism. Canada missed the boat and it has proven to have held back the development of the country´s national team. Fiji, with players involved in Super Rugby and elsewhere completed a 38-22 win over Canada during Rugby World Cup 1999. Canada then went on to  crush Namibia 72-11. Had Canada won vs Fiji it would have advanced in the tournament. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Rugby Championship Players to Watch - Rodrigo Roncero

It is hard to find a more respected loosehead prop than Rodrigo Roncero. With a professional career spanning more than a decade, the 35 year old veteran is the last remaining member of the acclaimed frontrow that took Argentina to the Bronze Medal at Rugby World Cup 2007. His combination with Mario Ledesma and Omar Hasan was not only the leading frontrow of the tournament but the best of a generation. It was re-enforced significantly with Martín Scelzo and Marcos Ayerza both avaliable as replacements. The scrum that set the platform for Agustín Pichot and Juan Martín Hernández to run their magic at France 2007 had Roncero as a key component. He was not, however a long time starter for the team despite having had made his test debut in 1998. The depth of Argentine rugby in the frontrow was so strong that Roncero had only become a regular in 2004, six years after his test debut vs Japan. 

Roncero playing for Gloucester
His inernational debut was a good one with Argentina defeating Japan 44-29 in Tokyo. It was a one off appearance for Roncero, however, as his next appearance in international colors was four years latter as he was recalled to face Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. He scored his first test try vs Chile. One year earlier, Roncero had become a professional player as he was signed from Buenos Aires´ Deportiva Francesca to play in England for Gloucester. His two year deal saw him make a name for himself and earn his place in Argentina´s squad for Rugby World Cup 2003. Before the tournament, he played one warm up match, in which Argentina defeated Fiji and had a memorable performance as he dominated his opponents and scored two tries in the 49-30 win at Córdoba. He played vs Namibia and Romania in Australia 2003 but was not selected for the key matches vs Australia and Ireland. 

Roncero for Stade Français
The following year saw momentous changes in Roncero´s career as he moved to France to play for Stade Français and became Argentina´s leading loosehead prop. He started tests vs France, Ireland, New Zealand and Wales with the key being Los Pumas´s victory in Marseilles which marked France´s first ever loss in the city. He has since held the position down as his own only rarely being replaced by Leicester and England´s leading loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza. The strong competition from Ayerza only served for Roncero to ensure he continued to perform well. Ayerza put in a strong performance in Argentina´s history making 25-18 triumph at Twickenham in 2006 with Roncero unavaliable due to a broken jaw. He recovered to come back in better form and after helping Stade Français to the 2007 French Championship title, Roncero left his mark at the World Cup as he started the pool matches vs France, Namibia and Ireland and the knock-out matches vs Scotland, South Africa and France.  

Bronze Final Triumph
Roncero´s performances at Rugby World Cup 2007 earned him plenty of praise with many comentators calling him the best frontrower of the tournament. With Omar Hasan retiring, Roncero´s new partner was Martín Scelzo and the pair together continued the high standards of Pumas scrumaging. Both Roncero and Hasan had been nominated by the IRB as the best props in the history of the Rugby World Cup. Known as the Dream XV, Hasan was voted in by fans worldwide on the social networks of twitter and facebook as the best ever tighthead prop while Roncero was a finalist for loosehead. This reputation was a reminder of his talents and of all the props representing all twenty participants at Rugby World Cup 2011, only Roncero was amongst the nominated players. He went on to start against England, Romania, Scotland and New Zealand, forming a solid frontrow with the young Juan Figallo having been refered to Martín Scelzo.

Now, in his twlight at 35 years of age it is not likely that he will be around for much longer but he is, nonetheless, a player far from needing to be put on the shelf. He is yet to announce his international retirement and is highly likely to play this year for his country in the June Internationals as well as The Rugby Championship. The temptation of playing for Los Pumas in the teams debut season in The Rugby Championship is likely to be too strong for Roncero as the possibility of retirement continues to be a hot topic in Argentine rugby circles. His post-rugby future is known, however, as Roncero is a qualified doctor. 

Week Three: Marcelo Bosch
Week Four: Agustín Creevy
Week Eight: Rodrigo Roncero
Week Nine: Gonzalo Camacho

Monday, March 26, 2012

Aviva Premiership - Round 18 Wrap

Chris Wyles
Chris Wyles
Sale Sharks 9-45 Saracens
Sale´s hopes of qualifying for the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals are looking increasingly remote as Sharks now sit twelve points behind Leicester. The team also has a big fight to qualify for the Heineken Cup as it currently sits outside of the top six, two points behind Gloucester and nine behind Exeter. The sides thumping home loss on Friday to Saracens sees the London side keep up the pressure on the Harlequins. The games first try was scored by USA Eagles fullback, Chris Wyles who continued his Aviva Premiership selection at outside centre. Wyles played the full 80 minutes. His USA Eagles teammate, Hayden Smith did not feature. The Argentine-Italian prop, Carlos Nieto played the final 23 minutes for Saracens. 

Worcester Warriors 19-9 Newcastle Falcons
Worcester have all but ensures it will not be relegated back to the English second division while next years Aviva Premiership is set to be without any team from Northern England after Newcastle looks set to drop to the second division just like Leeds did a year ago. With England hosting Rugby World Cup 2015 and looking to utilize by cities to host World Cup matches there is certainly a lot of work to be done to have the North ready. Newcastle´s best hope of remaining is for the London Wasps to falle behind them but this is a tough ask as there are eight points between the teams in the standings. 

Harlequins 14-6 Bath
Tomás Vallejos
The Quins retain the top of the table after a poor display vs Bath. Had the London based side faced a different team it is likely that the result would have been different. Former All Black, Nick Evans summed up the day as he missed some routine penalty goals. Argentine secondrower, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli came off the bench to play the final ten minutes for the Quins but flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta did not feature. Both players could play for Argentine in The Rugby Championship but would likely to used as cover rather than in the starting XV. The best chance of either player making the match dat 22 would be the June international clash in the western Argentine city of San Juan with Los Pumas taking on Italy. The match will be played on the same day as the French Top 14 Orange Final which will rule out players participating in the final from playing for Argentina. It is also going to be seven days after the Semi Finals and the Aviva Premiership Final which could well mean Vallejos´ and Urdapilleta´ best chances of playing for Los Pumas will depend on the Harlequins not making the Aviva Premiership Final. Should the team not perform better than it did vs Bath on Saturday it is highly unlikely to get passed the Semi Finals. 

Gloucester 27-28 Exeter Chiefs
Gonzalo Camacho
A remarkable win for Exeter sees the highly underrated Chiefs team move very close to being in the Heineken Cup for the first time ever. Exeter are less than one win outside of the top four of the Aviva Premiership too and could, indeed, make the Semi Finals. One player who has had a lot to do with the success of Exeter this season has been Argentine flyhalf, Ignacio Mieres. He again started in the 10 shirt while Gonzalo Camacho started on the right wing. Both players were replaced in the 56th minute.Camacho is yet to score a try for Exeter, since his arrival following Rugby World Cup 2011. He also did not score a try for Los Pumas in New Zealand. His performances, nonetheless, have been of a high level with both his attack and defence being at a high level. He is certain to retain his place in Argentina´s squad this year but faces competition from four inform players - Horacio Agulla, Lucas González Amorosino, Martín Bustos Moyano and Juan Imhoff. These four alongside Camacho are likely to be the players picked to play in the back three for Argentina. 

Northampton Saints 32-15 London Wasps
Paul Emerick
The Saints stay in the Top four to keep Exeter out and may well yet claim a home Aviva Premiership Semi Final. The Wasps, in contrast, continue to look anything like a quality side and certainly are a shadow of the team which was English and European Champions less than a decade ago. The USA´s Samu Manoa did not play for the Northampton Saints but fellow USA international, Paul Emerick played 63 minutes for the London Wasps. Like Exeter, the Saints were in the second division a few season ago but now the team looks like being genuine contenders for the title currently held by Saracens. Despite being in fourth position, Northampton are playing better rugby than the leaders are would appear to be a strong chance alongside Saracens and the Leicester Tigers. These three appear to be the only ones capabel of winning the English title in 2012. 

Horacio Agulla
London Irish Exiles 32-41 Leicester Tigers
The best was saved for last London Irish and Leicester fought out a great battle with the lead changing hands throughout the match. With Horacio Agulla and Marcos Ayerza both starting, the Tigers continue to march on. Agulla played the full match while Ayerza played 66 minutes and the Argentine-Italian, Martín Castrogiovanni played the final 24 minutes from the bench. While there is yet to be an official word from the Leicester Tigers it would appear that the club cannto release Agulla like it had previously said it would do so. His form has put him amongst the best wingers in England this season and Leicester have even nominated him twice for player of the month. Canada´s Jebb Sinclair did not feature for London Irish. The Exiles´ season continuous to be disasterous and the club now has a massive task just to qualify for next seasons Heineken Cup. 

Sale vs Saracens

Worcester vs Newcastle

Harlequins vs Bath

Gloucester vs Exeter

Northampton Saints vs London Wasps

Aviva Premiership Standings
1 Harlequins 62
2 Saracens 59
3 Leicester 55
4 Northampton 52
5 Exeter Chiefs 49
6 Gloucester 42
7 Sale Sharks 40
8 Bath 39
9 London Irish 36
10 Worcester 35
11 London Wasps 27
12 Newcastle 19

* Semi Finals places
* Heineken Cup places
* Facing relegation

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Top 14 - Round 21 Wrap

Patricio Albacete

Bordeaux-Begles 18-17 Toulouse
The Stade Chaban-Delmas has hosted Rugby World Cup matches, French internationals, Top 14 play-off´s and, on occassion, regular season matches. With Bordeaux-Begels winning promotion from the Pro d2 this season the venue has been used even more and has delivered some shocking results, such as a win over Stade Français earler this season. Nobody, however, could have predicted a win over reigning champions and tournament leaders, Toulouse. The team expected to finish last defeated the number one seed by a single point to make it all that much more harder for the relegated threatened teams. Rafael Carballo played the final 18 minutes for Bordeaux-Begles with the team still without flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez due to injury. A contender to captain Argentina, Patricio Albacete played the full match for the visitors while scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo was unused from Toulouse´s bench.

Castres 27-18 Montpellier
M.B Moyano and L.G Amorosino
Castres´ home win sees the team go back ahead of Montpellier in the standings. The Scotland of French rugby again counted on goalkicking to win it the match as both teams went in for two tries each. Montpellier´s first try was scored by the in-form Lucas González Amorosino who surely has a mortgage on the Pumas 15 shirt. He was joined in the startign lineup by three other Argentine internationals with Martín Bustos Moyano playing on the left wing and scoring eight points, all in the secondhalf. Pumas World Cup flyhalf, Santiago Fernández continues to play at outside centre with François Trinh-Duc pulling the strings from flyhalf. In good news for Los Pumas, Agustín Creevy continues to get through a mountain of work at hooker and Juan Figallo started alongside him in the frontrow. A sixth Argentine player, Maximilano Bustos played the final 16 minutes for Montpellier. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega did not play for Castres. 

Lyon 17-34 Biarritz
Taku Ngwenya
Bottom places Lyon had a home match vs the former bottom of the table Biarritz but failed to put in a performance that could help save the team from the seemingly guaranteed relegation back to the second division. The scores had been tied at 10-10 at the interval before French internationals Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquey turned it on in the secondhalf. Both were try scoreres as was the USA´s Taku Ngwenya who went over for Biarritz in the 26th minute. Young Francisco Gomez Kodela started at tighthead prop while Los Pumas´ World Cup secondrower Manuel Carizza and former international frontrower Eusebio Guiñazú both joined the match from the bench in the secondhalf for the Basque side. Outside centre Marcelo Bosch was rested due to a minor injury but his Pumas World Cup teammate, Juan Manuel Leguizamón played the full 80 minutes for Lyon. 

Clermont Auvergne 29-23 Perpignan
Jamie Cudmore
The home fortress that is the Stade Marcel-Michelin saw another victim as Clermont´s run approaches 40 consecutive home wins. Perpignan´s loss piles on the pressure for the 2009 French Champions as the club faces the real prospect of being relegated to the Pro d2.  With Bayonne winning at home over Brive, perpignan are now only one point outside of the relegation zone. If the club cannot find a way to string some wins together it could indeed find itself in 13th position quickly. With Toulouse losing, Clermont are now just one point behind the leaders in the standings. Canada´s Jamie Cudmore started for Clermont in the secondrow .  

Stade Français 53-27 Agen
Felipe Contepomi
Stade Français´quality performance all but guarantees the club a return to the play-offs and the Heineken Cup. The massive home win was orchestrated by Felipe Contepomi with the Pumas skipper returning to form to score two tries and score a total of 26 points. He again formed a 10-12 combination with fellow Puma, Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga who also kicked one conversion. The Argentine-Italian, Sergio Parisse was also a try scorer and was joined in the starting pack with Rodrigo Roncero at loosehead prop while the USA Eagles´ World Cup secondrower, Scott LaValla was on the bench for the Parisians. Of Agen´s three Argentine players, one started and scored the first of the teams three tries. The competition for a place in Los Pumas is tough but Belisario Agulla may well be in consideration for national honors this year, particularly with players from the Top Six French clubs likely to miss the match vs Italy in San Juan. 

Toulon 32-20 Racing Metro
Juan Martín Hernández
Former English flyhalf, Jonny Wilkinson kicked 22 points as Toulon came from behind to complete a solid win over Racing Métro. The Parisians had been leading 20-19 at the interval but were unable to score any points in the secondhalf. With Contepomi on form there is no guarantee that a fully fit and ready Juan Martín Hernández will   start for Los Pumas in the 10 shirt. El Mago played the full match vs Toulon at flyhalf and created opportunities he was joined by three other Pumas players with the speedy Juan Imhoff playing on the left wing. Both prop Juan Orlandi and backrower Alvaro Galindo featured as secondhalf replacements while the Argentine-Italian secondrower, Santiago Dellapé started in the secondrow. Leonardo Senatore was unused by Toulon while Juan Fernández Lobbe is yet to play all season following his World Cup ending knee injury suffered vs Scotland. 

Bayonne 19-12 Brive
Agustín Figuerola
Lyon are still in with a chance of staying in the Top 14 Orange next season but the clubs chances of surviving are increasingly looking unlikely as the other relegation threatened teams are fighting it out hard to stay above 13th position. Bayonne´s win vs Brive was not enough to get the club outside of the relegation zone but it means both Perpignan and Brive can be caught and overtaken with one more victory. Like all other matches this weekend in France, players from the Americas were on show. Brive had Agustín Figuerola starting again at scrumhalf as he continues his push for Argentina´s 9 shirt held by Nicolás Vergallo who Toulouse are giving very little game time to him. Former Los Pumas frontrower, Pablo Henn joined Figuerola in the starting lineup for Brive. Both players were replaced in the secondhalf. Star winger Yoann Huget is set to leave the club for Toulouse which means that even if the club survives relegation it has some massive recruitment to do and it needs to be done smartly. 

Bordeaux vs Toulouse

Lyon vs Biarritz

Toulon vs Racing Métro

Clermont vs Perpignan

Résumé du match ASM vs USAP - Mars 2012 por USAP_Communication

Bayonne vs Brive

Top 14 Orange Standings
1 Toulouse 74 
2 Clermont 73
3 Toulon 62
4 Castres 55
5 Montpellier 52
6 Stade Français 52
7 Racing Métro 49
8 Agen 44
9 Bordeaux 41
10 Biarritz 38
11 Brive 37
12 Perpignan 35
13 Bayonne 34
14 Lyon 26

* Currently would qualify for play-off´s and 2012-2013 Heineken Cup
* Currently facing relegation

Rabo Direct Pro 12 - Round 18 Wrap

Edinburgh 15-29 Newport-Gwent Dragons
Edinburgh continue to look like anything other than a Heineken Cup Quarter Finalists, let alone a team hosting a Quarter Final. the Scottish side again had a poor showing in the Pro 12 with Wales´ weakest side having few problmes in completing a good win.Ulises Gamboa was on the bnech for the Scot´s but Esteban Lozada was left out of the match day team.

Leinster 22-23 Ospreys
Top of the table Leinster lost for the first time in 21 matches with the up-and-down Ospreys getting a good win to stay in the Top Four. It was the come back match for Brian O´Driscoll. Former USA age grade player, Hanno Dirksen again started on the right wing for the Welsh region while Canada´s Chauncey O´Toole was left out of the team.

Glasgow Warriors 29-6 Aironi
Another side firmly in the Top Four is Scotland´s Glasgow Warriors who completed an easy win over Italian side, Aironi also on Friday. The USA´s Tommy Seymour scored the first try of the match as he played on the wing for Glasgow. Aironi´s points came from the boot of the Argentine-Italian, Luciano Orquera. Both sides had other players from the Americas with Federico Martín Aramburu playing 62 minutes at inside centre and Argentine-Italian frontrower, Matías Agüero entering from the bench for Aironi.

Benetton Treviso 23-37 Ulster
a late minute try from Ulster robbed Benneton Treviso of another famous victory. The Italians had been leading by 10 points with as many minutes remaining after Argentine flyhalf, Alberto di Bernardo went over for a try in the 29th minute to make it 23-13. But it was to be the luck of the Irish as one last change gave Ulster the win. The Argentine-Italian, Gonzalo García played the full match while three other players from Argentina came on from the bench in the form of Diego Vidal, Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Gonzalo Padro.

Cardiff Blues 14-26 Scarlets
After letting a great opportunity go begging last weekend vs the Newport-Gwent Dragons, the Cardiff Blues let another go, this time vs the Scarlets. Cardiff are now sitting in seventh position six points outside of the play-off´s zone while both Ulster and the Scarlets are one point behind Glasgow and three behind the Ospreys. 

Connacht 16-20 Munster
The away win sees Irish powerhouses, Munster, move into second position in the standings while Connacht continue to have no chance of advancing at all. Even with a virtual B team Munster was still too strong. The USA born Irish interantional flyhalf,. Ronan O´Gara was amongst the players rested for the encounter.

Leinster vs Ospreys

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings
1 Leinster 64
2 Munster 56
3 Ospreys 53
4 Glasgow 51
5 Ulster 50
6 Scarlets 50
7 Cardiff 45
8 Dragons 33
9 Treviso 30
10 Connacht 25
11 Edinburgh 23
12 Aironi 19

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pampas XV stage second half show to comfortably claim their second Vodacom Cup win

The Pampas XV overcame the Border Bulldogs in pouring rain for their second win of their Vodacom Cup defence, but had to comeback from a half time deficit to comfortably win the match.

The first half was not easy for the Pampas XV though, despite tries from Javier Rojas and Mariano Galarza who both wriggled over from short range the Border Bulldogs managed two tries of their own and had a 20-12 lead until the 40th minute but from that point the Pampas XV ran away with the match and the Bulldogs didn't get another point on the board and the Argentines scored 34.

Pampas consiguió su segundo triunfo consecutivo UAR
The Pampas XV looked impressive
in the second half and may be getting
some momentum leading into some
big matches coming up
One of the bright spots of the Pampas XV campaign so far has been the performance of the two scrum halves both of whom have looked good and should be challenging for a spot in the Pumas squad, Tomás Cubelli was impressive in the last match against the Eagles, and in this match Martín Landajo impressed with a masterfully placed chip kick over the Bulldogs defence to set up Javier Rojas to score his second try.

After that bit of scrum half skill was magical, the Pampas XV really began to get their rhythm in the rain and score some great tries. Rodrigo Bruno scored from an individual effort, showing great pace running 45 metres from the back of a scrum to score. A bald number 7 rampaging up the pitch brought back memories of Rolando Martín who was a great and underrated part of the Pumas side in the late 1990's and early 2000's which the current side has a large part to thank for them earning a spot in the Tri Nations.

The fifth try was from very good link up play by the front rowers and Javier Rojas, Emiliano Coria showed good accelaration for the initial break and offloaded to Rojas and Bruno Postiglioni a front row known to have quite some speed finished with a fantastic side step. Winger Vuyo Mbotho won't be happy about being sidestepped by a prop however.
Pampas XV
Ramiro Moyano set up the last try

The last try was set up by a Ramiro Moyano chip kick for Javier Rojas to complete a hat trick which leaves Rojas the joint top try scorer of the competition so far. A noticeable tactic of the Pampas XV this season has been the chip kick and it has worked very well for them, and set up four tries in the last two matches.

The result is satisfactory for the Pampas XV who scored some very good tries in the second half when they clicked. The Argentines now will have a series of harder matches coming up which will be a bigger test for these players, next week they face Boland who have the same record won two lost one as them and beat the SWD Eagles by 20 points on Saturday.

TriesRojas (11, 50, 81), Galarza (26), Bruno (58), Postiglioni (75)Basson (20), Krause (37)
ConversionsMadero (27, 51, 58, 76, 82)Kruger (21, 38)
PenaltiesMadero (40, 43)Kruger (5, 14)

Pampas XV: 15 Ezequiel Faralle (Ramiro Moyano 54), 14 Matías Orlando, 13  Gabriel Ascárate, 12 Javier Rojas, 11 Manuel Montero (Facundo Barrea 74); 10 Benjamín Madero (Santiago González Iglesias 57), 9 Martín Landajo (Tomás Cubelli 61); 1 Robrto Tejerizo (Franciso Piccinini 57), 2 Emiliano Coria, 3 Germán Aráoz (Bruno Postiglioni 50); 4 Santiago Guzmán (Julio Farías Cabello HT), 5 Mariano Galarza; 6 Genaro Fessia, 7 Rodrigo Bruno, 8 Tomás Leonardi (Juan Pablo Lagarrigue (54)

Border Bulldogs: 15 Logan Basson, 14 Quinton "Chucky" Norris, 13 Chumani Booi, 12 Dwayne Jenner (Arthur William Williams 47), 11 Vuyo Mbotho; 10 Louis Kruger, 9 Ntando Kebe (Lesley-Dean Luiter 18); 1 Blake Jonathan Kyd, 2 FJ Binneman (Khwezilokusa Mkhafu 21), 3 Armon Fourie (Marius Visser 28); 4 Ben Venter (Adam Wessels 51), 5 Samora Fihlani; 6 Clinton Koen, 7 Gareth Krause (Rynardt van Wyk 64-67 blood), 8 Lubabalo Mzwakali (Rynardt van Wyk 78)


The 2015 World Cup qualification set to get underway with Mexico taking on Jamaica in the opening match

Advert for the game
The first match of 2015 Rugby World Cup qualification gets underway this Saturday as Mexico (IRB ranking 71) take on Jamaica (IRB ranking 86).

Despite neither team having any chance of being one of the eight qualifiers from the 80 nations competing for a place at 2015, the match being staged in Mexico City is set to receive a lot more media attention than normal and hopefully to the benefit of Mexican rugby.

This is Mexico's first attempt at World Cup qualification, they have 1421 registered adult male players (more than four time World Cup nation Namibia) and only just entered the IRB rankings last week (along with Pakistan and the Philippines) despite being a full IRB member since 2006. Their coach is their number 8 Simón Pierre, who is from New Zealand.

Meanwhile the Caribbean side Jamaica who have far less players just 376 registered adult males, famous for sprinters and cricket will embark on their fourth World Cup qualifying campaign. Despite less players, they have more rugby pedigree than their opponents and even had a side in the 2008 Junior World Trophy tournament. Winger Marcel Garvey, is of Jamaican parentage but is unable to play unfortunately as he has represented England A. 

The Webb Ellis Cup
The match will be attended by England's legendary number 8 Lawrence Dallaglio a World Cup winner in 2003 and the 2015 World Cup ambassador. Dallaglio will present both teams with their matchday shirts which should be a memorable moment for the players who are all very much at an amateur level.

The match will be refereed by world class ref Craig Joubert who took charge of the World Cup final in October. And also the Webb Ellis Trophy will be at the match.

The game will be available to watch live on this link at 15:30 local time or 21:30 GMT

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rugby World Cup 2007 - Canada vs Fiji

Host venues for France 2007
The best Rugby World Cup ever was not Rugby World Cup 2011 but rather 2007. Both tournaments delivered quality matches with upsets taking place and were well organzed. The crowds were larger at France 2007 not only because the venues are larger but because there were some matches that were not well attended in New Zealand 2011. The crunch Pool 3 match of Argentina vs Scotland in Wellington had a crowd of under 30,000 at a venue of 40,000. The empty seats painted a negative image. The same did not happen four years earlier as France delivered big crowds with crowds packing matches throughout the country. The one weakness of the tournament was the allocation of two matches to Edinburgh and three to Cardiff. These British cities hosted matches in exchange for voting on France rather than England as the host nation for Rugby World Cup 2007. Ireland had been set to all host but missed out due to the reconstruction of the former Lansdown Road in Dublin. Curiously, Wales will host yet again in 2015 as England looks to utilize the Millenium Stadium, a venue which failed to deliver for two of its three matches in 2007. 

Should Argentina host Rugby World Cup 2023 it can do so on its own and has absolutely no need to have a subhost involved. The stated requirements of a minimum of ten venues can be more than catered for by the Republic of Argentina. The South American country´s home matches in 2012 are a strong indication that the country has the capability with six different cities confirmed to host Los Pumas´ six home matches. The UAR had given cities throughout Argentina the opportunity of officially bidding to host internationals this year and delivered on its promise with Córdoba, La Plata, Mendoza, Rosario, San Juan and Tucumán confirmed to host matches. All meet the requirements as cities to host World Cup matches and, with the exception of Tucumán, all are modern stadiums. In awarding these cities matches, there were other´s interested in hosting  who missed out. Buenos Aires, Resistencia, Salta and Santa Fé had all applied for matches too and all have appropriate stadiums. This would give Argentina with ten venues, one less than what Australia used in hosting Rugby World Cup 2003 and the same number of French venues in 2007.

Morgan Williams passes from a ruck
On the second weekend of France 2007 Canada vs Fiji took place in Cardiff. It was the second match for both teams with Canada having pushed Wales hard before at a packed Nantes being overwhelmed  and Fiji having played one of the best matches of the tournament to hold off Japan for a 35-31 victory in front of a packed Toulouse. It was a match that neither Fiji nor Canada could afford to lose as both were chasing the dream of a Quarters Finals appearance, with Canada having made the final eight in 1991 and Fiji in 1987. Whoever lost this match would see its chances of advancing evaporate. With a highly visible large quantity of unsold seats, Fiji held off a Canadian team that was determined to get the job done but missed ou on scoring tries at crucial times. Having been leading 15-6 at the interval, Fiji were able to complete a 29-16 win but it was Canada playing all the rugby in the second half. Had Mike Pike´s 70th minute try been awarded by the video referee then Canada could well have won the match. Fiji´s spontaneity, however, proved to be match winning.  

The tournament was the end of an era for Canadian rugby with legendary internationals and former Stade Français players Morgan Williams and Mike James playing international rugby for the final time. The strength of Canada in certain positions meant Jamie Cudmore was playing in the backrow and Ed Fairhurst was on the bench. Curiously, Canada´s 2011 no. 8 was also on the bench but as hooker. Another play to change position was Ryan Smith who in New Zealand 2011 played inside centre but was the teams flyhalf vs Fiji in 2007. He replaced Ander Monro for the match and had a good performance, scoring Canada´s only try. At the time he was based in France with the then Top 14 Orange side, Montauban. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exeter Chiefs resign Ignacio Mieres

Two year extension for Ignacio Mieres
The bombshell that the Leicester Tigers management dropped in January due to the club likely to lose the services of winger Horacio Agulla to The Rugby Championship threatened to seriously harm Argentina rugby. It created a grave scenario in which Pumas players may well be forced into chosing their careers as professional rugby players or playing international rugby for their country. Thus far, however, the seriousness of the threats have failed to materialize and the evidence suggests that clubs are seeing that they cannot lose their star Pumas players. 

With Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga and Marcos Ayerza both having agreed to stay at Stade Français and Leicester already another player has today confirmed he is staying on with his European club. 24 year old  Ignacio Mieres has been a key player all season for the Exeter Chiefs, contributing in no small manner to the teams performances which have seen the club move to close to securing a first ever Heineken Cup place for next season. The club is also close to the Top Four of the Aviva Premiership. Mieres has been instrumental as a goalkicker and playmaker in general. He has played 22 matches, scoring 240 points for the club this season. The result is that Exeter has signed the player known in Argentina as Cangu for an additional two years. In an interview with Argentine site Scrum, Cangu made it clear that his intentions are to be a Puma and no longer a fringe player.

His form will, without question, see him earn an international call up and with Argentina´s first match of 2012 being vs Italy on the same day as the Top 14 Orange Final Mieres could even start at flyhalf for his country. A lot could well depend on who makes the French Final but Santiago Phelan will, nevertheless, be using his pencil to good effect with the name of Ignacio Mieres. A likely scenario is that players from the Top 14 Orange Barrage and Semi Finals stage who miss out on the Final will be rested for the Italian match at San Juan, with them likely to instead play vs France in Córdoba the following weekend.

Pumas Players Remain in High Demand

The transitional year of 2012 threatened to tear apart Argentine rugby as European clubs were not happy 
with having to release players for international duty in The Rugby Championship. The Southern Hemisphere competition will finish in October, meaning players involved will miss the pre-season and early rounds of the season in Europe. Racing Métro and the Leicester Tigers had both stated that they were not impressed and would not be looking at signing Pumas players in the future. The pendulum has swung, however, as the same two clubs are showing no signs of ending contracts with Pumas players. Racing Métro are in the process of trying to resign Juan Martín Hernández with the flyhalf also having been given official offers to return to Stade Français or play Super Rugby for the Blues in Auckland. Similarly, while Leicester had said it won´t be resigning Horacio Agulla the player himself is still in negotiations with the club and has continues to do the talking on the field having been nominated as Leicester´s player of the month for the second time this season.
Ayerza staying at Leicester
Agulla´s Leicester and Pumas teammate, Marcos Ayerza has finalized talks with Leicester over his involvement in The Rugby Championship with the club accepting his involvement rather than giving him the choice os staying at Leicester or playing for Argentina.Other clubs are not being put off resigning their Pumas stars. Stade Français is a club with many Pumas and it could have more soon if Hernández does return from Racing Métro. The club is negotiating a new deal with Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga for him to play for a further two or three years for the Paris club. Curiously, the club sees him as an inside centre rather than a fullback. This could very well be replicated by Santiago Phelan who initially selected Rodríguez Gurruchaga as an inside centre in 2009. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

IRB World Rankings June Implications

Canada celebrate beating Tonga. Could Canada make the Top Ten?
Following the completion of Europe´s premier international competition, the Six Nations the IRB World Rankings of its participants tell a tale of two cities. There is a clear split between the top four and the bottom two. Champions Wales were undefeated and deserved the title but the teams wins over England and France were Ireland were by small margins and all could have been loses. Results against Italy and Scotland were clearer with bigger wins not only from Wales but from the other three teams. It is a continuation of a long term trend in which Scotland have been falling behind while Ireland and Wales have been eliminating the gap between themselves and that of England and Scotland. Italy, in contrast to Scotland, have been improving and the evidence on the international stage as well as within Italian rugby seems to underline the progress of the sport in the country. Scotland, like Italy, are seemingly now a far different prospect at home than in away matches. While the other four are able to perform well home and away.

Could the USA topple Italy in 2012?
The IRB World Rankings have neither Italy nor Scotland in the World´s Top Ten. Both teams are in fact ranked much closer to Canada than they are to Argentina. Canada ranked 13th in the world with Italy and Scotland in 11th and 12th. The points difference sees Canada less than one point behind Scotland and less than two behind Italy. Scotland are more than six points behind Argentina. The European team ranked closed to both Italy and Scotland (besides eachother) is not a Six Nations participant, but rather, Georgia. Similar to Argentina entering The Rugby Championship, Georgia needs to be integrated into the Six Nations. One thing that the current shape of the World Rankings does show is that the June 2012 tours are set up well with Italy to play Argentina in San Juan, the USA in Houston and Canada in Toronto. Scotland will face Australia, Fiji and Samoa. But these tours are not common, rather a rare thing. Scotland will also host Tonga in November, giving it a good chance of rising in rankings. 

Rupeni Caucau vs Scotland in 2003
Should Scotland end the year outside of the Top Ten then Georgia´s case for a place in the Six Nations would be greatly amplified. The matches against Tier Two sides will enable them to pick up IRB Rankings points, especially because the teams they will face are ranked closely. The lowest ranked side that Scotland will face is Fiji in 17th, the same team that ran riot vs the Scot´s at Rugby World Cup 2003 with Rupeni Caucau breaking the line at will. It took the boot of Chris Paterson to rescue Scotland that day. He has now gone to retirement, however, and Scotland´s goalkicking has suffered. Fiji and Samoa will be no easy games for the Scot´s and it could see the Scot´s appear more like a Tier Two than a Tier One side. Italy, in contrast,  have a tough first match in San Juan and then head north to Toronto and Houston. If Italy´s ambition is to be ranked as highly as possible than Jacques Brunel may well opt to field his strongest team in North America, especially given the schedule of facing Canada on Friday evening, having played Argentina on the previous Saturday some 8,380KM away. 

Both Canada and the USA will also play host to Georgia. Any slip ups from either Scotland or Italy would therefore sink the sides lower than their present rankings. Should Canada replicate the form it showed at Rugby World Cup 2011 it could well win all four tests this June. Such a scenario would see the Canadians move towards the Top Ten and if Scotland fail to win in Fiji and Samoa then Canada could be ranked even higher. The USA´s position of 17th could also change greatly. Should the USA Eagles have success in June then it will rise and further put into dispute the IRB´s distribution of qualification places for Rugby World Cup 2015. The USA is ranked behind all of its opponents for the June internationals which means that wins will be more significant for the Eagles than the Canadians. Curiously, the USA is ranked closer to Chile than it is to Canada. This is a sign of the lack of matches the USA has against lower ranked sides. The opposite is true of Namibia, which explains the Africans position in World Rankings.

The World´s Top 25 also features five countries from the Americas. In other words the Americas make up for 20% of the World´s top 25 teams. Three come from South America and two from North America. South America is the only region to not have automatic qualification granted to the winner of its phase of World Cup qualification. Not only does it go against performances at World Cup´s but it also goes against World Rankings. Rather than solving the issue of African participants, other than South Africa struggling, the IRB opted to continue giving Africa an automatic place with Africa one going directly to in Rugby World Cup 2015 while South America 1 will have to face North America 1 and the loser enter repercharge. The IRB, whether intentional or not, continues to fail to address its special treatment of gifting Africa 1 a place at World Cups. Unlike other regions, it is not a system based on merit. Japan, for instance, are clearly a team who should always be at World Cup´s despite not having won many matches. Both the USA and Canada have won more as has Uruguay yet Namibia has played 24 for zero wins, sits behind Spain in World Rankings and does not have a good record against sides from outside of Africa. 

Current IRB World Rankings
1(1) NZLNew Zealand  91.43
2(2) AUSAustralia  87.99
3(3) RSASouth Africa 84.34
4(4) ENGEngland 83.62
5(5) WALWales 83.32
6(6) FRAFrance 81.91
7(8)  ARGArgentina 80.28
8(7) IREIreland 79.85
9(9) TGATonga 76.63
10(10) SAMSamoa 75.81
11(12)  ITAItaly 74.17
12(11) SCOScotland 73.86
13(13) CANCanada 72.92
14(14) JPNJapan 70.45
15(15) GEOGeorgia 70.26
16(16) FJIFiji 68.78
17(17) USAUnited States 65.63
18(18) ROMRomania 63.81
19(19) ESPSpain 62.57
20(20) NAMNamibia 61.24
21(21) URUUruguay 60.47
22(22) RUSRussia 60.12
23(23) CHLChile 59.52
24(25)  BELBelgium  58.88
25(24) PORPortugal 57.75

For a complete list of IRB World Rankings click here.