LANGFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA – The 2nd round of the Heineken Cup isn’t the only significant rugby this weekend. The Bledisloe Cup and final matches of The Americas Rugby Championship are also on the docket.
Americas Rugby Championship (ARC): In Victoria, British Columbia, Argentina will face Canada in the final match of the 2012 ARC. It will be a winner take all match-up as Argentina are only ahead by one bonus point over Canada. The penultimate match-up will be between USA and Uruguay, in a battle to avoid the Wooden Spoon.
ANALYSIS: This competition will go to Argentina – as we predicted. Canada will hang tough but Argentina will retain the title. As for the USA vs Uruguay, we’ve some ambivalence. USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville and Head Coach Mike Tolkin need to get this club in a position so that it dominates our fellow minnows. This includes Uruguay. Team USA’s biggest rival and neighbor is Canada and whether it’s the HSBC Sevens Series or the ARC, any failure of the Eagles to beat a minnow with similarly limited resources and geographical challenges – but with 1/10th the population – is just unacceptable. The Canucks face the same challenges.
USA rugby fans have a right to be upset. The aforementioned struggles are real but they don’t explain the USA’s poor scrum work, disorganized defense and inability to create on attack vs Canada the other night. The players appeared a bit shell-shocked as the Canadians played the expansive game, the Eagles hoped to play.
Team USA need to fully dominate Uruguay to salvage any real positives and needed confidence. At the very least, they need ot play well and win. Finishing this tournament 0-3 would be disastrous.
Here a potential USA line-up for Saturday’s match, which kicks off at 5:30pm PST at Westhills Stadium:
Head Coach: Mike Tolkin
Captain: Cameron Dolan
1. Nick Wallace (St Mary’s College)
2. Derek Asbun (Rosslyn Park FC)
3. Tony Purpura (Boston)
4. Eric Duechle (Belmont)
5. Graham Harriman (Chicago Griffins)
6. Taylor Mokate (USA Rugby Sevens)
7. Kris Headlee (Life University)
8. Cameron Dolan (capt), (Life University)
9. Shaun Davies (BYU)
10. Zach Pangelinan (OMBAC)
11. Cornelius Dirksen (Life University)
12. Jack Tracy (Belmont Shore)
13. Dean Gericke (Arkansas State University)
14. Miles Craigwell (OPSB)
15. Chris Chapman (NYAC)
Replacements: 16. Zach Fenoglio (Glendale), 17. Stan Moa’ali’i (Glendale RFC), 18. Tim Paulsen (Chicago Griffins), 19. Nick Civetta (NYAC), 20. John Quill (Boston), 21. Benny Mateialona (Life University), 22. Gearoid McDonald (Old Belvedere), 23.Casey Clark (At Large)
Canada v Argentina, kicks off at 7:30pm PST.
Meanwhile, Down Under in Brisbane, or Bris-Vegas as our Aussie correspondent Bruce Bogan likes to call it, the third and final match of the 2012 Bledisloe Cup Challaenge between New Zealand and Australia will take place. This Cup has a long history and has been battled for between the two countries since 1931. It is named after the former Governor-General of New Zealand and was a best of 3 series that was shortened to 2 games during a phase of the Tri-Nations. But to the chagrin of Wallabies Head Coach Robbie Deans, it’s has been extended back to 3 because of popular demand. The All Blacks are up 2-0 and the Aussies are hoping to avoid a whitewash.
ANALYSIS: Deans wishes the series was just two games… because it would be over with already. His troops are the walking wounded. Still, the Aussies will show lots of fight, especially as they are at Fortress Suncorp. Yet one cannot emphasize enough how ravaged this team is by injury. We can literally present a 22-man roster’s worth of injured players. No Digby Ioane, David Pocock,Will Genia… and the list goes on. Further, the All Blacks aremasters of finding some innocuous slight that the rest of the world probably missed – but that will motivate the Australians to correct. But, with the death of Head Coach Steve Hansen’s dad this week, the ABs will be out to help ease his grief by drubbing on the Wobblies (pun intended). ABs 37 – Oz 10.
Here is the match-day breakdown of the All Blacks:
Head Coach: Steve Hansen
Captain: Richie McCaw
Starting Line-up (with Test caps):
1. Tony Woodcock (90)
2. Kevin Mealamu (100)
3. Charlie Faumuina (39)
4. Brodie Retallick (7)
5. Samuel Whitelock (34)
6. Liam Messam (16)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (112)
8. Kieran Read (44)
9. Aaron Smith (9)
10. Daniel Carter (91)
11. Hosea Gear (12)
12. Ma’a Nonu (72)
13. Conrad Smith (62)
14. Cory Jane (37)
15. Israel Dagg (21)
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22Ben Smith.
The Wallabies line-up will be:
Head Coach: Robbie Deans
Captain: Nathan Sharpe
Starting Line-up (current club):
15. Mike Harris (Queensland Reds)
14. Nick Cummins (Western Force)
13. Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds)
12. Pat McCabe (Brumbies)
11. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
10. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)
9. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7. Michael Hooper (Brumbies)
6. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force, captain)
4. Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs)
3. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Replacements: 16 James Hanson 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Drew Mitchell.
Date: Saturday, October 20
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20:00 (10:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Before ending, we’d like to remind all our readers to see the Counter-Rucking Cancer fundraiser. It only takes a moment and anything you have to give is appreciated.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.