Thursday, February 19, 2015

International Rugby: Salta to host Argentina v USA

The Northern Argentine city of Salta is set to host international rugby in 2015 with Los Pumas playing at home against the USA. The President of the Unión de rugby de Salta posted confirmation on facebook. The published advertisment (pictured to the right) features Pumas captain Agustín Creevy and Salta's own Juan Figallo. It also indicates that one of the two scheduled home fixtures between Argentina and the USA will take place in Salta on either April 28 or May 02. No indication has yet been made as to the venue for the other fixture. The USA has also been linked to a yet to be confirmed match against Uruguay during its South American tour. 

The 2015 international calendar that was released in December has developed further with sources indicating that Salta has secured hosting rights to Argentina v USA. With there being no June international tours during World Cup years unions are organizaing alternatives to ensure their coaches and players can be fully prepared.  

With the USA's South American tour taking place from late April to early May players contracted to European clubs will not be available for selection. Last November the USA was unable to call-upon Aviva Premiership players for international duty against Romania, Tonga and Fiji due to the scheduing of the home test in Chicago against New Zealand outside of he mandatory player release window. Similarly, Argentina was without leading foreign based players in the June windows of 2012-2014.

The teams thus involved in Salta are to be similar to restircted teams that represented both countries in 2014. Argentina's team will be made up of Pampas XV players, many of whom have signed Super Rugby contracts to begin playing in the competition in 2016. The Argentine team left Buenos Aires on Wednesday afternoon to play against the Waratahs and Blues Super Rugby teams prior to playing in the World Rugby Pacific Rugby Challenge in Fiji.

After returning home Daniel Hourcade will assemble a squad for international rugby against the USA followed by the CONSUR Cup against Chile and Uruguay. He will do so without access to those abroad as will Eagles headcoach Mike Tolkin. Fears that Rugby Sevens players will also miss the tour can be eased due to it taking place in between the Tokyo and Glasgow legs of the World Sevens Circuit which are to be played on the weekends on April 4-5 and May 9-10.

The Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena has a capacity of 20,500 and has previously hosted test match rugby with England playing at the venue v Argentina in 2009 and 2013, Italy in 2005 and South Africa doing so during the 2014 Rugby Championship. It also hosted a Rugby Championship warm-up match against Australian state New South Wales in 2013.

Should Argentina be allocated hosting rights to Rugby World Cup 2023 then the stadium would be a more than adequate option for hosting matches. It is included in the Stadiums for the Possible Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023 video.

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