Sunday, December 7, 2014

European Rugby Challenge Cup: Americas Players Review Round 3

Questions remain from a number of teams as to whether or not the European Rugby Challenge Cup should exist or not. As it is the secondary European competition many teams do not field their regular starting players which, in turn, results in a depleted product. In round there there was no shortage of missing players but there was still room for some European based players from the Americas. Their participation is of great significance as the Americas has never been allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. The Home Unions will host again in 2015 and Ireland wants this continued in 2023. Argentina has never hosted unlike Ireland. 

Grenoble 69-10 Rovigo
Grenoble is well placed in the Top 14 and a much better side than Rovigo but the team was not interested in the match with coach Bernard Jackman calling the competition a waste of time. Uncapped Argentine fly half Luciano Rodriguez was involved for the Italian side.

Cardiff Blues 24-14 London Irish
A strong home win by the Cardiff Blues on Saturday places the Welsh region in top spot of Pool 1. Involved were some test players but not all with Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino both rested. Canadian Jebb Sinclair started for London Irish but was yellow carded.

Pool 1
Cardiff Blues 14
London Irish 10
Grenoble 5
Rovigo 0 

La Rochelle 10-36 Exeter Chiefs
With La Rochelle having won promotion to the Top 14 last season the club is focused firmly on avoiding relegation. With there being two teams relegated and the Top 14 lacking any poor sides this means fringe players receive game time in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Argentina's Leandro Cedaro started in the second-row for La Rochelle. He is capped by Italy.

Connacht 42-19 Bayonne
Bayonne is in real danger of following Biarritz down to the Pro d2 while Connacht is looking to join the three other Irish provinces in playing at the elite level in Europe. As such Connacht had a strong side on the field in Galway while Bayonne left out a number of players. There was, nonetheless, room for Martín Bustos Moyano. The former Puma played fullback kicking twelve points.

Pool 2
Exeter Chiefs 11
Connacht 10
La Rochelle 4
Bayonne 4

Newcastle Falcons 30-23 Paris
Both teams were missing regular players but the Parisians notably more as the club has demonstrated little to no interest in Europe this season. Starting for the visitors was Santiago Gárcia Botta at loosehead prop. Gárcia Botta played tests in the 2013 South American Championship against Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

Bucharest 10-37 Dragons
An away victory in Romania for Welsh region the Newport-Gwent Dragons sees the side well placed to push for a Quarter Finals appearance. The side, similar to Connacht, was taking the match seriously. Unlike Aviva Premiership and Top 14 teams those from the Guinness Pro 12 have no relegation danger.

Pool 3 
Newcastle 14
Dragons 11
Paris 5
Bucharest 1

Bordeaux-Begles 37-29 Lyon
Two big city French sides who are instances of the changes in French professional rugby post 2007 met on Saturday. The match was another lacking regular Top 14 starting players as both teams have their ambitions centered at home. Bordeaux is well placed while Lyon is another in danger of relegation. Starting for Bordeaux was former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela who played tighthead prop.

Edinbugh 25-13 London Welsh
A poor start from Edinburgh offered London Welsh the opportunity to win for the first time this season. Edinburgh, though, got it together to score three second half tries. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí started in the back-row for Edinburgh. He has not played a test under Daniel Hourcade but remains in the frame for selection.

Pool 4 
Edinburgh 12
Bordeaux 11
Lyon 5
London Welsh 0

Brive 22-30 Oyonnax
With both teams fighting for vital competition points in the Top 14 neither fielded leading players. This saw Agustín Figuerola and Benjmaín Urdapilleta both rested. An impressive performance nonetheless was enough to see the eastern French side winning away from home.

Gloucester 35-10 Zebre
A bonus point home win for Gloucester sees the English side in firm control of pool 5. With none of the three other sides fielding their top lineups the west country club has had an easy campaign thus far. Starting at fly half for Zebre was Luciano Orquera who plays for Italy despite being Argentine.

Pool 5 
Gloucester 14
Oyonnax 8
Zebre 4
Brive 1

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