Wednesday, July 31, 2013

USA and Canada November tests taking shape

USA v Tonga, Colwyn Bay 2012
The remaining international fixtures for 2013 are currently being confirmed. In the case of Canada and the USA the final official list will not be possible until after August 24. On that date Canada will play host to the USA in Toronto in what is to be the second of two Rugby World Cup Qualification matches and will be played seven days after the USA hosts the Canadians in Charleston, South Carolina. The winner of the matches on aggregate will qualify for England 2015 as Americas 1 while the runner-up will be North America 2 and will go on to face Uruguay home and away in November to determine who is Americas 2. 

The exact dates for the Uruguay v North America 2 matches remain undetermined. The only confirmation is that Uruguay will host the second of two. They are, however, all but certain to be played on November 23 and 30 due to other fixtures already having been confirmed on other dates. Uruguay will host Spain on November 16 while the New Zealand Maori, now known as the Maori All Blacks, are to play matches in North America on November 3 and 9. They are not the only matches confirmed involving Canada and the USA. Rather Canada is highly likely to play tests in Georgia, Romania and Portugal while the USA will face Georgia on November 16. 

The flaw in Canada´s schedule is that it has been confirmed by Portuguese Rugby as playing a test in Portugal on November 23 - the obvious date for the home leg of North America 2 v Uruguay. The confirmation of the fixture therefore comes as a high risk due to there being a real possibility of the USA toppling Canada in August´s Rugby World Cup Qualification matches. That being the case then the obvious solution would be for Portugal v Canada to be altered to instead be Portugal v USA. Of Canada´s other fixtures the only one yet to be confirmed is the matrch against Romania on November 16. It will, however, be certain to go ahead and be one of three home tests for Romania in November. The others appear likely to be against Tonga on November 9 and Fiji on November 23. 

The USA therefore is in need of a match on November 2 or 3 while, curiously, Russia only has one match scheduled. That being a home match against Japan on November 16. A solution would therefore be for the USA to host Russia in a test the weekend before hosting the New Zealand Maori. Japan, for its part, has an exciting November match schedule that sees it host New Zealand on November 2 and then play away tests in Scotland, Russia and Spain. It is a notable fixture list and should be replicated in subsequent November´s ahead of 2019. 

Further good news for Tier Two rugby is that it appears unlikely that there will be a return to the IRB International Series which saw the small town of Colwyn Bay in Northern Wales play host to quality Tier Two fixtures in November 2012. The location and match attendances were very concerning and did not leave a good impression in the administration of the competing teams nor in the minds of the players themselves. Instead Tonga and Samoa are to to away tests against European Tier One and Tier Two sides as are the North Americans. North America 2, however, is set to be advantaged over Uruguay due to Los Teros only having one match confirmed. Options are limited due to South America only recieving Spain in November. There could, therefore, be a match between Uruguay and Los Jaguares added. 

Canada / USA November Internationals
November 3 Canada v Maori All Blacks
November 9 Georgia v Canada
November 16 Romania v Canada
November 23 Portugal v Canada

November 9 USA v Maori All Blacks
November 16 Georgia v USA 

November 23 North America 2 v Uruguay
November 30 Uruguay v North America 2 

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