Friday, April 26, 2013

Americas Tour - Events ahead of the weekend

The USA Rugby Sevens squad for the upcoming Glasgow leg of the IRB World Sevens Series has been confirmed. The squad features one chance with Rugby World Cup 2011´s Blaime Scully replacing Mike Palefau.

Speaking of the USA, rugby website This Is American Rugby posted an interview with Paul Tait about the upcoming South American Rugby Championship.  It starts on Saturday with the big game between Chile and Brazil being played in Temoco while Uruguay will play Los Jaguares in Montevideo.

The Argentine team to face Uruguay is young with a host of uncapped players starting. The side will be captained by Santiago Méndez who will play scrumhalf and lead his country in his debut test appearance. One of the rare players with previous test experience is Mauricio Guidone with five test caps. Uruguay´s starting lineup is more experienced but the chances of an upset remain slim. 

Canadian international back Sean Duke was honored this past week by the Minister of State Sport. Bal Gasol congratulated Duke and wished him good luck for the future.

Argentina, Canada and the USA will all have players on the field in this weekends Heineken Cup Semi Finals. Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe has been named in the starting lineup for Toulon against Saracens at Twickenham. On the bench for the London based club will be USA Eagles fullback Chris Wyles. The match will take place on Sunday, one day after Clermont Auvergne faces Irish province Munster  in Montpellier. Starting for the French side will be Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore who will play opposite Ireland´s Paul O´Connell with the two having a heated rivalry dating back several years. O´Connell will be joiend in the starting lineup with the USA born Irish international flyhalf Ronan O´Gara. 

Players from the Americas are also in action this weekend in the Amlin Challenge Cup. The first of two Semi Finals has already taken place with former Perpignan and French test fullback Jerome Porical kicking Stade Français to victory. Joining Porical were two players from the Americas with USA forward Scott LaValla playing in the secondrow for the Parisians who were led by Argentina´s Italian captain Sergio Parisse. Stade Français will face the winner of Leinster v Biarritz in the final. The basque side will have two players from the Americas in the back-three. Marcelo Bosch will start at fullback and Taku Ngwenya willl play on the right wing. Pumas tighthead prop Francisco Gomez Kodela has been named on Biarritz´s bench. 

Other players from the Americas were involved in the postponed RaboDirect Pro 12 fixture in Treviso on Friday. The home side, Benetton Treviso played host to Irish province Connacht and the teams played out a 23 all draw. Argentina´s Alberto di Bernardo continued his good form by kicking thirteen points. With every match his chances of getting the call to play for Italy this June increase. He was joined in the starting lineup by  a second Argentine-Italian in the form of Ignacio Fernández-Rouyet as well as Canadian Robert Barbieri who plays his test rugby for Italy. 

Also on Friday Los Pampas XV played some good rugby against the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup. The teams positive attack again saw the Argentine side run in some impressive tries but there were major concerns defensively as the South African side completed a 46-31 victory. The loss did not matter in the end as the South Americans had already secured a Quarter Final spot. 

Video of the week
This week the video of the week award goes to a Pumas tribute video profiling five tries titled the best five of all time. Featured are key Pumas tries in recent history. At number five is Ignacio Corleto´s try to open Rugby World Cup 2007. It has, indeed, gone down as a tournament definig moment. Number fourgoes to Federico Todechini for his interception try from a Toby Flood pass which helped Argentina defeat England at Twickenham for the first time in 2006. The third try is from Argentina´s 1965 match against the Junior Springboks at Ellis Park and features a try by Marcelo Pascual. Number two is from Rugby World Cup 2011 and should be a try used to promoted Rugby World Cup 2015 as it was arguably the best of the tournament as Lucas González Amorosino broke Scottish hearts by dodging five tackles. Although Argentina had defeated Australia in 1997 Argentina´s rise in the professional era came in 1999 with the South Americans leaving a long term mark on the rugby world. Diego Albanese´s try against Ireland gets the vote for number one and it is certainly a fair nomination. The image is not HD and at times can make for difficult viewing.

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