Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Americas 2013 in brief

Photo SA Rugby Mag: Felipe Contepomi played his final test in 2013 aged 36
In the spirit of the holiday season Argentina 2023 wishes everybody a Merry Christmas. 2013 was a year of ups and downs for Argentina in addition to most other nations in the Americas

The biggest success story was arguably Ecuador whom won the CONSUR C tournament in Costa Rica to secure promotion to CONSUR B for 2014. Ecuador will face the likes of Colombia, Peru and Venezuela in 2014 and possibly also Paraguay, a country split between CONSUR A and CONSUR B. The fate of Paraguay remains unknown with Brazil, Chile and Uruguay possibly being joined by Paraguay in a new CONSUR A format with Argentina facing the winner.

But before the 2014 South American Championship has been played Uruguay and the USA will face-off home and away with the winner, on aggregate, qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Americas 2. In 2013 both countries recorded impressive wins and big losses. Uruguay did well against Brazil and Chile at home and then completed a narrow one point win over Spain in November.

The USA started with a fine performance in losing narrowly against Ireland in June but that same month, and in May, the USA was knocked over by Canada, Fiji, Japan and Tonga. The USA then lost against Canada twice in August but recovered to defeat Georgia and Russia in Europe in November. Canada was less impressive than the USA not only against Ireland but also against the Maori All Blacks. Canada also failed to defeat both Georgia and Romania in addition to Japan but did defeat Fiji, Tonga, Portugal and the USA

Neither Canada nor the USA played against a South American opponent in 2013. Argentina did, however, face Tier Two and Three opposition this year. No other Tier One nation did so. New Zealand and Scotland faced Japan while aside from England and Scotland the other Six Nations sides played once against Fiji, Samoa or Tonga. Argentina, in contrast, faced Georgia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay

Needless to say Argentina won these matches but had major problems in a number of other matches as Los Pumas were badly defeated by England and Wales in addition to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Argentina had a deterioration in defense which saw many more tries leaked while selection concerns led to the biggest attacking weapons to often being on the bench or outside of the team. Consequently 2013 did not see a high number of Pumas tries with Juan Imhoff´s try against Italy being the only back try against a Tier One side after June. 

Indeed despite the lack of onfield success the UAR has had a highly memorable two seasons in the Rugby Championship in making unprecedented profits of $100 million pesos. The figures will only increase when the public have greater reason to attend home matches. The poor showing in Soweto resulted in 10,000 fewer people in attendance against South Africa in Mendoza than what had been predicted. But as the Spanish expression goes it is better to be the tail of the lion than the head of the mouse. Or in rugby terms, it is better to lose every match against the best sides in the world than beating all the Tier Two sides. 

The following video is a compilation of Los Pumas´ tries scored in 2013 as the tail of the lion. Argentina´s tries scored as the head of the mouse are not included. Tries against New South Wales are. 

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