Friday, November 29, 2013

Americas Weekend Preview - Five Hot Points

Hourcade wants changes - Neither Lucas González Amorosino nor
Juan Fernández Lobbe have played June Internationals since 2010. 
1. Hourcade wants 60%-70% of Players in Argentina
With Argentina having a place in the Rugby Championship attention has been turning to having greater control over players. Argentina suffered losses against England in June 2013 by unthinkable margins due to players based abroad not being able to play against England due to the rules which allow Argentine players to instead play in the Rugby Championship. It meant that the incoming tours every June are in danger of disappearing unless, that is, that the UAR can create a means to keep the players at home or have them play in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

New headcoach, Daniel Hourcade believes it is entirely possible and he seeks to have a staggering 60%-70% of Argentina´s best players playing in Argentina in 2015. For this to eventuate there needs to be a professional competition in Argentina or Argentina must enter Super Rugby. Both options are possible and indications suggest that Argentina will be playing Super Rugby in 2016. Hourcade will field Pampas players and some foreign based Pumas against Ireland and Scotland in June 2014. Exactly where the Pampas XV will play remains unknown but it will not be in South Africa. 

2. Uruguay´s Agustín Ormaechea in France
Uruguay is on the path to Rugby World Cup 2015. It has its eyes fixed firmly on the upcoming qualification matches against the USA in April 2014 but knows that these matches are, likely to in fact be, preparation for the global play-off series in which the runner-up of the USA v Uruguay will enter repercharge for the right to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 as the Play-Off Winner. The most likely scenario is that of the USA qualifying direct and Uruguay entering repercharge to face Russia in the final. Russia debuted in Rugby World Cup 2011 and played some good rugby in all four of its matches but has since dropped off while Uruguay, in contrast, has demonstrated improvement. Currently Russia is ranked 19th and Uruguay 20th in the IRB World Rankings.

In order to qualify Uruguay needs more players exposed to a higher tempo and quality of rugby, or in other words, to professional rugby. For too long Uruguay´s lone wolf in France was Rodrigo Capó Ortega of Castres but the 2013 Top 14 Champion has been joined by a number of players in the country with one of them being Agustín Ormaechea. The scrum-half is playing for Mont de Marsan which was relegated to the Pro d2 last season. Ormaechea is to start for the club this weekend against Tarbes. After eleven rounds the club is off the pace. Lyon OU is the heavy favorite to win promotion with the La Rochelle, Aurillac, Pau, and Agen looking like possibly being the four finalists fighting for a place in the Pro d2 final.

3. USA v All Blacks Likely in 2014
The possibility of the All Blacks playing a match in the USA next November continues to grow. Not only has the head of the NZRU publicly stated that he wants New Zealand to play in the New York area but seven All Blacks were in New York this week. With the All Blacks main sponsor being an American company the chances of there being a match such as the USA Eagles v the New Zealand All Blacks in New York are far from being a pipe dream. Furthermore with Dan Carter pointing out that despite the USA not having a comparable rugby community to that of New Zealand he was, nonetheless, recognized while in New York.

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian caught up with the players in New York on Wednesday and indicated that AIG is interested in having the Eagles v All Blacks in just over eleven months time. The Insurance company not only sponsors the All Blacks but also sponsors USA Rugby. A successful international rugby match in New York would be of great interest not only to the global game, USA Rugby and the NZRU but also to AIG. The basis is there for the match to go ahead with a stadium in the Tri-State area now needing to be identified and booked at a time when all of the USA Eagles will be available to play.

4. Campeonato Argentino Final
There will be a new Argentine Champion on Saturday when Rosario and Tucumán face-off in the 2013 Campeaonto Argentino Final. It is not a final which many predicted but one that further underlines the progess that has been made with the introduction of the PladAR program which has seen the opportunities for players from outside of Buenos Aires explode so that they have far greater chances now than ever before. Indeed, Buenos Aires was eliminated by Tucumán in the Semi Final. Playing for Tucumán was former Racing Métro back-rower Alvaro Galindo who started in Argentina´s debut Rugby Championship match in 2012. He played against Tomás De La Vega, a player certain to have a future in the test team. Other players of note included Ariel Castellina and Matías Orlando who started for Tucumán and Agustín Gosio and Juan Pablo Estelles for Buenos Aires. 

Rosario qualified after defeating Salta and did so with future Pumas fly half Patricio Fernández impressing. The 19 year old formed a 9-10 combination with another potential Puma, Pedro Imhoff. Fernández played in the 2013 South American Championship but is yet to be selected for the senior squad. With Juan Martín Hernández injured Daniel Hourcade did not select a second fly half which meant Nicolás Sánchez was the only pivot in the November squad. Hourcade´s squad was very young and, indeed, saw a number of domestic players selected over professionals. One such example was Javier Rojas who appeared off the bench against Italy in the second half. Now back in Argentina Rojas is preparing with Tucumán as Los Naranjas close in on the Argentine title. 

5. Outcry over prices Supports Argentina Hosting RWC2023
There has been no shortage of anger from rugby supporters and the general public directed at the organizing committee of Rugby World Cup 2015. The prices being asked have been justified as being appropriate for the local market but this has not sat well with the English population. Not only will England play three of its four pool matches in London but will do so at night which is not a popular decision with the public. In conjunction with there not being a genuine spread of matches throughout England and the hugely unpopular use of Wales to host matches the tournament is off to a bad start in winning the support of the masses.

While there are many unhappy with having to travel to London to see England play there is also the issue of the north only getting six matches and most of them being certain to be over by half time. Visiting supporters, though, may be those hit hardest. The conversion rate of many currencies to the British Pound means they have to pay much more than would be the case in the USA or France. Visitors from the likes of Argentina and South Africa will be asked to pay very expensive prices if they wish to attend the tournament.

1 comment:

  1. in an interview with rugbytime.com from october 28th , luis castillo said los pampas will be playing in the pac nations next year!

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