Friday, November 8, 2013

Americas Weekend Preview - Five Hot Points

Todd Clever has come to be the biggest name in the history of USA Rugby
1. Los Pumas Losing Streak
Having lost every match in the 2013 Rugby Championship Argentina enters the November internationals with the worst record in the professional era. Should Argentina lose its first two tests then it would equal the all time worst Pumas record of eight wins in a row. Moreover in the event that Daniel Hourcade´s team is not able to defeat any of England, Wales and Italy then it would mean the 2013 Pumas would officially be the worst team, in terms of statistics, of all time. The players have a lot to play for and both injuries and Stuart Lancaster has helped as the wingers set to start are tame compared to the likes of Christian Wade. Argentina´s scrum will be much better than that which England faced last weekend while the officiating is not likely to be as controversial as that of George Clancy. Desperation combined with what is actually a very competent group of Argentine players could well see Argentina win despite the contrary being the talk of the town.

2. Canada on Verge of First Win in Tbilisi
The hard work being done by the current IRB administration is abundantly clear when considering that this Saturday´s test match in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi is to be just the second of its kind. Having been poor in helping Tier Two nations find adequate test rugby matches could now be a thing of the past as this weekend will see the likes of Portugal v Fiji, Scotland v Japan, Ireland v Samoa ad Romania v Tonga. There will even be a m atch between Senegal and the Cote d´Ivoire played in Castres, France. Tonga´s visit to Romania will be the first time they have played each other ever. This is the case despite Romaia having played at every Rugby World Cup and Tonga only having missed out on qualifying in 1991. The match in Tbilisi sees a very impressive Canadian back-line likely to play with flair. Georgia, on the other hand, will keep it tight and bully the Canadians up front. 

3. Martín Landajo Could Sign for Bayonne
Top 14 club Bayonne has been in the headlines recently for firing Welsh and British & Irish Lions starting scrum-half Mike Phillips. This weekend will see Phillips start against South Africa despite not having a club. It is similar to Nahuel Lobo of Argentina who is unnattached and will be on the bench at Twickenham. Bayonne is now looking for a replacement and the player looks like being a Puma as Martín Landajo has been linked to a move to Bayonne in French and Argentine sources. Should it eventuate then it would be his first professional contract. He has previously only been contracted to the UAR as a senior PladAR player. Aged 25 Landajo has played twenty-four tests and after having been Santiago Phelan´s top scrum-half in 2012 and 2013 he has been dropped by Hourcade who will start Tomás Cubelli in the position tomorrow. Landajo replaced Nicolás Vergallo in 2012 after Vergallo had been used as the replacement for Agustín Picho in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Alfredo Lalanne was the top option in 2009 while Agustín Figuerola was also used. Should Landajo move to France then he would join both Vergallo and Figuerola there while Cubelli remains based in Buenos Aires.

4. Full-House in Philadelphia Underlines U.S. Expansion 
Without question rugby in North America is at an all time high. The attendance records keep getting broken in both countries as big crowds saw both Canada and the USA host Italy in 2012 and Ireland in 2013 in Toronto and Houston. Scotland will visit in 2014 playing at the same stadiums. Their performances has seen them rewarded. It has seen Canadians less than happy in part of the country due to no matches being played in the province of British Columbia. Work is required to have a suitable venue. Toronto´s BMO Field had a record crowd  against the Maori All Blacks last weekend and another Major League Soccer venue, will do so tomorrow in Philadelphia as a reputable but not full strength USA Eagles side will play in front of a Full-House in the City of Brotherly Love. The match has been marketed well with USA Captain Todd Clever increasingly becoming a key ambassador for the sport in his country. USA legends Dave Hodges and Dan Lyle who exited the game in 2003 and 2004 must be very proud to see what has been occuring off the field in recent times.

5. Titi Lamositele On the Verge of Professional Move
The young and very exciting USA Eagles front-rower Titi Lamositele has been on the radar in recent times. In the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup Qualification he was featured on Argentina 2023 as one to look out for. The 18 year old is on the bench to face the Maori All Blacks this weekend but is expected to start the international match against Russia in London this month. Should he do so then it would enable him to get the required visa clearance for Saracens to complete his signing. The club has been wanting to do so but due to laws requires him to start a test match. Lamositele was training with the Saracens club in September. He is yet to start ba test but is already the holder of the record for being the youngest USA capped player of all time. He played in both qualifying matches against the Canadians in August. 

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