Langford, BC: The Americas Rugby Championship kicks off just as The Rugby Championship is completed. Besides being an annual quadranglar tournament that has championship in its name, there is a world of difference between the ARC and the TRC. The ARC is a tournament for the non-first choice/foreign based players but playing at the highest domestic level in the national team pool players from Argentina, Canada, United States and Uruguay. Hence the slight name changes like USA Selects and not Eagles. Let’s preview the teams and give our predictions.
Argentina Yaguaritos– This Argie side will be filled with a few guys on the Pampas (An Argentine side playing in the South African Provincial competition the Vodacom Cup). Those guys will be playing for a chance to play in Europe, although all players in this comp will be, these guys have the most realistic chance. The side will also be filled with the outstanding members from the Junior World Ccup U-20 side. Though they are expected to roll all comers in this tournament, the ARC is important to the Argies. Argentina is streets ahead of any team in Americas, their entry into the TRC is proof. Because of this, they can send a U-20 side full of 18 year olds to the South American U-20 championship and still win games 97-3. Finding quality opposition for that group under the internationals is very difficult and with RWC2015 around the corner and 2019 down the road they need to find out who will pick up the torch and help the nation once again reach the lofty heights of 2007 (3rd place) or actually achieve the dream.
Canada A – The host are under a far less intense microscope this ARC. They have officially qualified for RWC 2015 and nearly won this year’s Pacific Nations Cup. With those achievements behind him, Canadian Coach Kieran Crowley will look to develop depth. There are plenty of players that looked good during the National Provincial competition, the Canadian Rugby Championship (Hear that ‘Murikka! A national comp broken up by regions, not clubs!!). However, there is a whole other level that a player needs to get to, in order to play on the international stage. Crowley will look to separate his “runners from riders” (courtesy of Ryan Day). Winning would be great but it is a secondary priority.
United States of America Select XV– Most coaches would love to be a national team coach. However, not sure loads of people wish they were Mike Tolkin right now. On the back of an 0-7 summer, 3 assistants quit. He hires 2 more, but now one (Brett Taylor) is unavailable due to a work commitment (all of Tolkin’s assistants have to have day jobs as that is all USAR can afford), so he has to find a fill-in, Billy Millard. Now back to the on the field issue of an under-performing team with an underwhelming attack. Though Tolkin will be hoping to develop depth, his main goal will be to find game changers. The Eagles lack dynamism in the scrum and tight five. Along with creativity and playmaking in the backline. Tolkin is hoping some veteran/fringe players have finally hit their stride while some young guns prove they deserve a shot at the big time. Tolkin has to put the players in poor under pressure and hope the challenger wins or makes the incumbent perform. Fly-Half Toby L’Strange embodies this and it will be watched with interest how well Max D’Archval pushes him. Winning is also important as beating Uruguay (a feat they failed to do last year) is going to be important and send a message, with RWC Qualifiers against them scheduled for spring 2014.
Uruguay – Unfortunately this side is expected to finish fourth. Uruguay is in an even precarious situation than neighbor Argentina. While they are is more daylight between the two than a week of sunrises, there is just as much daylight between Uruguay and the 3 best South American team. As Americans say, they are a mid-major side. So now they have to mix in young talent develop depth, while also taking the opportunity to get quality competitive matches for guys that will be on the RWCQ team.
Our friend, Bryan Ray of Rays Rugby, has a great matchday with streaming links for more in-depth opinion and coverage, here. We at RWU didn’t just list the teams alphabetically, we also believe that they will finish in this order in the final standings.
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And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.