Saturday, May 2, 2015

European Challenge Cup: Americas Players Final Review

In the first of two European Rugby finals taking place this weekend English side Gloucester ran-out 19-13 winners against the Scottish capital's team Edinburgh. Taking place at the Twickenham Stoop in London the Aviva Premiership side secured not only the second string European title but also the right to face the seventh placed Guinness Pro 12 side with the winner taking-on the seventh placed Top 14 side in a European Rugby Champions Cup qualification series starting later this month. Victory for Gloucester saw the west country side winning the Challenge Cup for a second time after having previously won the 2006 final against London Irish.

Gloucester is the European Rugby Challenge Cup champion. The Aviva Premiership team's struggles this season will quickly be forgotten as the West Country side now has a trophy. The club is out of contention for a place in the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals and is also well down in terms of qualification for the 2015-2016 European Rugby Champions Cup. In winning the Challenge Cup Final, however, the club now has a lifeline and could yet qualify. 

Standing in Gloucester's way is a qualification series in which the club will face teams from the Guinness Pro 12 and, if successful, the Top 14. The winner is to secure qualification similar to how the Wasps did last season. Set to be involved for Gloucester is Mariano Galarza. The Puma was involved in he team's win over Edinburgh as a replacement. He played the second half of the match in the second-row, the position he made his own for Argentina in 2014. 

Galarza is on contract until the completion of the current season. He is then expected to return to Argentina to rest ahead of the Rugby World Cup preparation in which a sixty man training squad is to prepare from which Daniel Horcade will select his thirty-one players for the World Cup. Two others who could be involved are Edinburgh's Tomás Leonardí and Joaquín Domínguez. Neither player, however, received game time against Gloucester this weekend. 

The city of Gloucester is to be a Rugby World Cup venue with four matches taking place at Kingsholm. One of the four fixtures is to be that of the eagerly anticipated clash between Japan and the USA. Argentina is also to play at the stadium taking on Georgia in a match in which the locals could well get behind Galarza's and his colleagues. 

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