Friday, April 12, 2013

Americas Tour - Events ahead of the weekend

With the weekend already having begun there is a lot happening in rugby circles throughout the Americas and involving players from the Americas based abroad. Big news from France is that Agen has joined Mont de Marsan as the second club to be relegated to the Pro d2 from the Top 14. It was confirmed earlier this evening by virtue of Bordeaux-Begles drawing 23-23 with Castres. The result means that Bordeaux-Begles is now too far ahead of the thirteenth placed Agen and is safe. The match in Castres featured two Pumas with Rafael Carballo and Nicolás Sánchez both starting for the visitors. Sánchez landed five goals and played well. He should have cemented the Pumas 10 shirt for The Rugby Championship. 

Top 14 action will resume on Saturday with Agen now having to just play out the season. Agen will face Stade Français in a match of interest to Pumas fans. Two former centres will face off with Miguel Avramovisc to go head-to-head with Felipe Contepomi. The selection of Contepomi at inside centre is bolstered by the naming of Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga at outside centre meaning that three of the four starting centres are from Argentina. Belisario Agulla and Esteban Lozada have been named in the 23 by Agen while USA Eagles forward Scott LaValla will start for Paris. A host of other players from the Americas will be in action in the Top 14, Rabo Direct Pro 12 and the Aviva Premiership. 

The upcoming test series between Brazil and Mexico has been changed. The venue for the second test has been changed from São Paulo to the city of Santo André which is a part of São Paulo ABC the Brazilian name for Greater São Paulo. The CBRu has confirmed that ticket prices are BR$10 for adults and BR$5 for students and people aged 60 or older. Admission is free for people aged 17 or younger.

Canada has been confirmed as the host nation of the 2013 Americas Rugby Championship. The tournament will take place from October 11-19 in the British Columbia city of Langford in western Canada. It will be a four team tournament featuring A teams from Argentina, Canada and the USA while the fourth team will come from either Chile or Uruguay depending on the final standings of the teams in the upcoming South American Championship to take place in Chile and Uruguay. 

One player likely to feature in the Americas Rugby Championship is Conor Trainor. The Canadian international centre / winger won a prestigious award this past week as he was amongst the athletes honoured at Western held the annual Athletic Awards Banquet. Trainor won the 70th Dr. Claude Brown Trophy in London, Ontario. The award is given to the athlete woh is judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university while at Western. 

Earlier this week it was confirmed that former Wales and New Zealand coach Graham Henry will stgay on as an advisor to the national men´s team in 2013. What remains unknown is whether or not Santiago Phelan will still be the headcoach after The Rugby Championship. Tati is yet to make a decision regarding his future but indications are that he will step down in time for a new coach to have two years ahead of the World Cup. 

Daniel Hourcade continues to utilize as many players as possible in the Vodacom Cup. He has made eight changes to the side that defeated Bolland last weekend for Saturday´s match against Western Province. The selection includes a host of players who should play for Argentina this year. Most notably is the backrow of Leonardo Senatore, Tomás De La Vega and Rodrigo Baéz. The match will kick-off on Saturday morning at 9:30am Argentine time.

Argentina´s preperation for the 2013 Rugby Championship continues to take shape. With matches having been rum oured against New Zealand Super Rugby franchise and current champions, the Chiefs, there may now also be a match against the Sydney based New South Wales Waratahs. The possibility also exists for Argentina to face Top 14 club, Montpellier.

For the Rugby Championship Argentina will likely be fielding a frontrow combination of Marcos Ayerza and Juan Figallo in conjunction with Agustín Creevy at hooker. Both Ayerza and Figalloa are sidelined and neither players will play again for their clubs this season. Figallo will be fit for the June internationals against England ad Georgia and with permission from Montpellier he will play in these matches. Ayerza was injured last weekend playing against Toulon in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final. The extent of his injury is bad but is better than had initially been feared. He will be fit for the start of the Rugby Championship. Ayerza is set to be  back training normal in June.

Video of the week
The player of the tournament award for the 2013 Six Nations went to Welsh fullback, Leigh Halfpenny. The Cardiff Blues and Wales number 15 is the frontrunner to be the starting fulolback for the British and Irish Lions with the second in line possibly being Scotland´s Stuart Hogg. On form Halfpenny would be hard to leave out as the starting fullback but a argument could be made for Halfpenny to play wing with Hogg being the fullback. Halfpenny started the November tests for Wales and was one of the few Welsh players to play well throughout the month. He was, however, beaten on two occassions by Pumas wingers as both Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho scored tries by getting past Halfpenny. With Australia having deadly finishers it is worth taking a look back at the Pumas tries to half a second thought about the Lions fullback position.

Debates on this and other subjects relating to the Lions tour of Australia can be found on a diverse range of social networks and rugby forums. Should there be a reader interested in reading more or participating in a discussion a good place to do so is The Rugby Forum.

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