|Esteban Lozada from Toulon to Edinburgh to Agen to London Wasps|
The opening round of the Amlin Challenge Cup has come to a close. It was played across Europe from Thursday to Saturday with ten matches taking place. There were no clear upsets but there were some near misses as some understrength teams took to the field which made it easier for their opposition. There were players from North America in addition to a total of twenty from Argentina in action as the last region to host a Rugby World Cup continues to contribute significantly to global rugby.
Sale Sharks 3-10 Biarritz
The shocking form of Biarritz in the French Top 14 means that the club cannot focus on the Amlin Challenge Cup. Biarritz is sitting rock-bottom in the French Top 14 and is in dire need of some wins to get out of the relegation zone. There were some players rested for the away fixture against the Sale Sharks as regular starters were on the bench. Two such players were USA Eagle Taku Ngwenya and former Pumas prop Francisco Goméz Kodela. Starting for the English side was Canadian international winger Phil MacKenzie.
Oyonnax 9-9 WorcesterFrench Top 14 newcomers Oyonnax has had a good start to the season but is far from being safe from relegation. English side the Worcester Warriors, on the other hand sits bottom of the table in the Aviva Premiership and is the only side yet to win a match in the competition this season. Worcester will have to wait at least another week to win but now faces an unlikely path to the Quarter Finals in what is one of the toughest groups. Pumas second-rower Mariano Galarza made his debut for Worcester in the second half as a replacement while Ignacio Mieres was a late substitution. Oyonnax also had two Pumas on the bench for this match in the form of scrum-half Agustín Figuerola and Benjamín Urdapilleta.
1 Sale Sharks 4
2 Oyonnax 2
3 Worcester 2
4 Biarritz 0
Dragons 50-8 MoglianoThe good start to the season continued for Welsh region the Newport-Gwent Dragons. A bonus point home victory over Italian side on Friday came with one try being scored by former Pumas international tighthead prop Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, his first since moving to Wales. He played opposite the one time capped Argentine looshead prop Agustín Costa Repetto who faced Samoa in 2005.
Bordeaux-Begles 6-15 BathAn understrength Bordeaux-Begles team played host to a near full strength Bath team on Saturday and was defeated. With Bordeaux sitting slightly above the Top 14 relegation zone the result could be a blessing in disguise as the team can now put all its resources into winning French championship matches. Starting on the wing for the French side was former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo while Nicolás Sánchez was on the bench. Two players who were a part of the Rugby Championship side together with Sánchez were on the bench for Bath - hooker Eusebio Guiñazú and tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi who made his debute for the club.
1 Dragons 5
2 Bath 4
3 Mogliano 0
4 Bordeaux 0
Calvisano 20-20 BriveFrench club Brive is not in the relegation zone in the Top 14 despite having won it´s way back into the French Top division by virtue of winning the Pro d2 final earlier this year. But early season wins are just the start as Brive is in need of many more if it is to secure a permanent place back in the Top 14. The uncapped Argentine second-rower Agustín Cavalieri stated for the Italian side as did former Italian international Pablo Canavosio who is from Argentina.
Bucaresti 12-13 NewcastleA huge upset alsmot occurest in Romania on Saturday as the Newcastle Falcons returned home to Northern England with just a one point victory. The Falcons have enjoyed a good start to the season but certainly remain a contender for relegation back to the RFU Championship. The club nonetheless sits pretty at the top of Pool 3 after the result of the other match was a draw.
1 Newcastle 4
2 Brive 2
3 Calvisano 2
4 Bucuresti 0
Bayonne 37-6 GrenobleBayonne is second from bottom in the Top 14 while Grenoble is comfortable. For this reason it was a match which went against the script as Bayonne stormed home to complete a bonus point win while Grenoble made the decision to field a weak side. Argentine international fullback Martín Bustos Moyano kicked fifteen points for Bayonne. He played the m,atch on the right wing.
Viadana 17-90 London WaspsAviva Premiership side the London Wasps went to Italy and returned with the maximum five competition points after hammering Viadana on Saturday. Former Pumas second-rower Esteban Lozada made his debut for the London Wasps from the bench while Viadana had three uncapped Argentine players. Gabriel Pizarro started in the mid-field, Gonzalo Padro played number eight and Juan Pablo Sánchez was a replacement back.
1 Bayonne 5
2 L Wasps 5
3 Viadana 0
4 Grenoble 0
Paris 61-3 Lusitanos XV
The in-form Parisians made light work of their match against Portuguese newcomers. A bonus point victory on Thursday set the tone for what is likely to see the French club compete in the Quarter Finals of the competition. Stade Français was understrength but did have some notable players one of which was former Argentine international fullback Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga who was on the bench for the fixture.
London Irish 60-11 Cavalieri PratoStruggling Aviva Premiership side London Irish hosted and humbled Italian side Cavalieri Prato on Friday. The bonus point victory featured Canadian international second-rower Jebb Sinclair who played the match in the back-row. Two Argentine players took to the field for the Italian side and one of them scored a try. The try scorer was Nicolás De Gregori while 22 year old hooker Emiliano Coria made his first appearance in a European competition match. Coria joined the Italian side after having played for Los Pampas XV in the 2013 Vodacom Cup.
1 Paris 5
2 L Irish 5
3 Cav. Prato 0
4 Lusitanos 0