NEW YORK, NY – The second incarnation of the Americas Rugby Championship is off and away. It has started out much like last season with favorites Argentina looking like the ones to beat. Also as expected they are chased by the two North American nations USA and Canada. Brazil are a shock fourth place side followed by Uruguay and finally Chile. Let’s take a look back.
Round 2 review (the round of routs):
Argentina 57-12 Uruguay
In front a near packed house in Bahía Blanca, the Argentina XV, as they are called in this tournament, put in a powerful performance. The Argies came out on the attack early and dominated possession in the first half, starving Uruguay of the ball. Before the half-time whistle blew, the Argies had scored 4 tries. Uruguay had managed one try but the game was well on its way to being over.
Things didn’t get any easier in the second half. The Argies continued to deprive the Uruguayans of ball with a stifling defense and the attack continued to be relentless. The Argies scored five more tries to the Uruguayans one to close out the match.
Canada 36-15 Chile
It was a chilly and frosty day in Burnaby, BC, where this game took place. However, Canadian winger Taylor Paris was as hot as the sun’s surface. The left winger scored the first three tries of the match to give Canada a solid lead. Chile did their best to keep pace with the Canadians in the first half, despite two tries for Paris.
The third of Paris’ tries occurred at the 52nd minute mark and it essentially looked like the game was over. However, Chile responded with two tries of their own as the didn’t go down quietly. Those tries were cancelled out by two tries for Canada as the team traded tries with each other and with Canada having the last word as they walked away victorious.
USA 51-3 Brazil
This match on paper was set to be a rout. However that was the belief last season before the biggest upset of 2016 Tier 2 rugby occurred. Grant it that time Brazil was at home but it shouldn’t have mattered. So despite this one looking like it should be an easy win for the USA, American rugger fans were deservedly nervous.
The match went as expected as the USA routed the Brazilians. The Brazilians were attempting to kick and get into a field position battle, however, the USA was not hearing any of it. It was ball in hand and attack the line all day for the USA. 7 different players scored their 8 tries with the first one at 3 minutes and the final one at 80 minutes. That is proof of the sustained pressure they put the Brazilian defense under for the length of the match.
Lets look at the table and before we look ahead.
Round 3 preview:
Chile – Argentina
This match is taking place as I type. It is no worry because I can tell you right now, what will happen. It is not that I am clairvoyant, it is because even the mommas of the Chilean players know they are about to get beat bad. Unless the Argies blood way too many young players or the home crowd helps the Chileans find some steel that they haven’t shown to date, it will be a rout to the Argies along the lines of the USA rout of Brazil. You can take that to the bank.
Uruguay – Brazil
The Uruguayans have spent a lot of time and money revamping their program. New coaching staff changes in the union’s structure, all of which were done with the guidance and cooperation from Argentina, hence the Argentinian coach. The Uruguayans have been the 4th placed team in the Americas for a while. They are 4th on an average day and second every blue moon night. However currently they are under performing and are looking up at Brazil for the fourth slot.
The Brazilians play the kind of rugby most developing nations are happy with. They kick the leather off the ball, make the opposition play from their end and try to use good defense, strong forward play and penalties to get the win. They have backs that can occasionally make a brilliant play but that is not a reliable option.
It will be an interesting affair but home field advantage dictates that the winner should be Uruguay. Not by much but still the win.
Canada v USA
It is time for the famous Border war in Americas rugby. Argentina and Uruguay is not as important because the Argies are so far ahead. For a while the Canadians were well ahead but now things have tightened a bit between the North Americans. Let’s look ahead to tonight’s match-up and the line-up.
Looking at the line-ups you would have to favor the Canadian front row in terms of starters and depth. They are led by Ray Barkwill as team captain and veteran of the group with young talent like Djustice Sears-Duru and Benoit Piffero off the bench. The second row match up goes toward the USA as the Brakeley-Civetta combo is extremely mobile and good in the air despite not being the strongest scrummagers. In the backrow, it looks to be where the USA are head and shoulders above. They have Tony Lamborn from Super Rugby, Cam Dolan who is now in the Pro 12 and the ever durable Todd Clever leading the way as captain. Not to mention John Quill who can play either side of the flank and a dangerous David Tameilau who is the last thing anyone wants to see charging off the back of a scrum. You can’t win without the ball and it looks like the USA has the backrow to starve the Canadians of possession and win the game.
In the halfbacks, the experience of Phil Mack should give Canada the slight advantage over the USA and their relatively young combo. In the centers both Du Toit and Eloff were highly rated tens that made the shift out one and can also cover fullback in a pinch. They are very similar players so the experience of Nick Blevins at 13 over the USA’s Bryce Campbell will prove to be the edge. The back three also goes to Canada as they have specialist while the USA are using 7s players with one being a part-time scrumhalf in Augsberger and Mikey Te’o being a jack of all trades that plays fullback but can cover wing and scrumhalf. Maybe it is because of the backline’s flexibility that USA head coach John Mitchell has gone with a 6/2 split bench. The USA seems to have the overall advantage int eh forwards with Canada the advantage in the backs. It will be a tight affair but we believe the USA’s backrow will see them through to a victory.
So grab your favorite beer, strap in and don’t forget to breathe, this will be match of the round.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.