Saturday, October 25, 2014

European Rugby Challenge Cup: Americas Players Review Round 2

Photo Ultimate Rugby
Round two of the second-string European professional rugby competition came to a close on Saturday. The new European Rugby Challenge Cup has been looking to leave behind the lop-sided former Amlin Challenge Cup and with less teams from outside of the Aviva Premiership, Guinness Pro 12 and Top 14 the competition is delivering. Many teams, however, continue to not field their leading players which sees an inferior product on display. Involved in round two were players from the Americas, the only IRB identified region never to have been allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentina, Canada and the USA all had players in action and some of which are to be involved in international matches next month and, moreover, in Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and Wales. While 2023 is the earliest that Argentina can host a Rugby World Cup 2015 will be the fourth time for Wales and the third for England.


Pool 1

Grenoble 15-25 London Irish
French side Grenoble fielded a weak lineup at home in Friday's fixture against London Irish. The policy was due to the team not being interested in the European competition. With the club performing well in the Top 14 it is looking to chase a place in the barrage this season. Canadian international Jebb Sinclair started for the English side in the second-row.

Rovigo 18-33 Cardiff Blues
Italian side Rovigo put on a much better showing against the Cardiff Blues earlier today than was the case in round one against London Irish. The home side was, nonetheless, not good enough for the Guinness Pro 12 side. New Cardiff signing Lucas González Amorosino was not involved in the match but Rovigo had uncapped Argentine fly half Luciano Rodríguez and former Pumas loosehead Guillermo Roan both starting.

Standings
London Irish 10
Cardiff Blues 10 
Rovigo 0
Grenoble 0

Pool 2

La Rochelle 25-13 Bayonne
An all-French battle on Friday saw the home side making-up for losing in round one. The win means all four teams in the pool have a record of one win and two losses. Involved in the fixture was former Puma Santiago Fernández who played inside centre for Bayonne. Another Argentine player, Leandro Cedaro, started for La Rochelle. Cedaro is capped by Italy. 

Exeter Chiefs 33-13 Connacht
Having performed poorly in round one the Exeter Chiefs turned it around with a good showing at home against Connacht on Saturday. The win places the Aviva Premiership side at the top of Pool 2, one point ahead of the Irish province.

Standings 
Exeter 6
Connacht 5 
La Rochelle 4
Bayonne 4

Pool 3 

Dragons 26-30 Newcastle Falcons
An away win by Aviva Premiership side the Newcastle Falcons places the team in pole position after two rounds. Having won against Stade Français in round one the Newport Gwent Dragons were expected to make it two from two but Newcastle prevented this and did so despite being understrength. USA prop Eric Fry was a 51st minute replacement for Newcastle while Juan Pablo Socino and Gonzalo Tiesi were both rested.

Bucharest 9-13 Paris
The Goznalo Quesada coached Stade Français are now one from two after the Parisians defeated Romanian side Buchaest in an away match earlier today. The result means the Top 14 side is third in the table but is, by no means, out of contention of a place in the play-offs. New Argentine international second-rower Juan Cruz Guillemaín started for the Parisians. He is expected to make his test debut for Los Pumas next month. 

Standings 
Newcastle 9
Dragons 6
SF Paris 4
Bucharest 1

Pool 4

London Welsh 20-52 Bordeaux-Begles
English Premiership side London Welsh is yet to win a match this season and the prospects of this changing shortly are not appearing strong. The team's loss at home against French side Bordeaux-Begles on Thursday sees the team remaining winless in Europe too and now all but eliminated from the play-offs. Former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela played at tighthead prop for the visitors.

Edinburgh 25-17 Lyon
Scottish team Edinburgh is well-placed in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The team's two wins in the opening rounds have come despite the team having struggled in the Guinness Pro 12. With the competition having no second division and, therefore, no relegation the teams do not face the same relegation threat as competitors from England and France. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí played in the back-row for Edinburgh while uncapped Argentine outside center Joaquín Domínguez was a replacement.

Standings
Edinburgh 8
Bordeaux 6
Lyon OU 5
London Welsh 0

Pool 5

Brive 21-26 Zebre
The second to bottom sides in the Top 14 and Guinness Pro 12 went head-to-head in France on Friday and it was the visiting Italians who came out on top. The result means Brive is all but certain to not make the cut for the play-offs while Zebre is tied with Oyonnax in being five points behind Gloucester. Zebre's Argentine players were not involved in the fixture. 

Oyonnax 15-25 Gloucester
As the bottom placed Top 14 side Oyonnax is not a club showing great interest in the European competition. The French club must keep its top players in shape to focus on collecting points in the Top 14. A number of players were rested altogether including former Pumas Agustín Figuerola and Benjamín Urdapilleta. 

Standings
Gloucester 9
Zebre 4
Oyonnax 4
Brive 1

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