HANOVER, NH – While the European 6 Nations Tournament starts this weekend, don’t forget that Americas Rugby Championship commences as well. Brazil (36), Canada (18), Chile (29), America (17), Uruguay (21), and the Argentina XV (N/A) will face off starting February 4th and commencing March 4. It’s worth noting that Argentina is sending its national “B team” made up of domestic players not competing for the Jaguares side in Super Rugby.
Last year saw Argentina XV take home the championship with the USA and Canada following in at second and third. For the US, it was a tournament of mixed performances with tough fought tie to Argentina XV, but also an embarrassing loss to Brazil. The challenge facing the US is that many of its normal starters are unavailable for the ARC. Many of their European clubs won’t release them since there is a shortage of players with many internationals gone to play in the 6 Nations. The biggest obstacle facing the US will certainly be trying to put together a cohesive unit each week with many players coming a going.
USA vs. Uruguay
The Eagles will see many familiar faces this week at Toyota Field in San Antonio, TX. Veterans Todd Clever, Chris Baumann, and John Quill will be joined by AJ MacGinty, Nick Civetta, and Blaine Scully who were released by their European clubs. Bryce Campbell of Indiana University will be rejoining the squad after getting his first cap three months ago. But possibly the biggest surprise is that twenty-year-old Ben Cima of Rocky Gorge (remember his penalty kick last year for the U20s?) will get the start at fly half and will bump MacGinty to inside center. Scully will take the role of captain for the US. There is certainly a good mix of experienced and new players on the roster.
“If you have a 12 that can be direct with the ball, defend well, and distribute, you become a greater threat with an added variety to your attacking game,” Head Coach John Mitchell said. “As AJ’s only here for a week, he’s been awesome in the sense of taking on the challenge of playing 12 to help the likes of Ben and Will Magie. His presence alone is good for those young guys.”
Los Teros will be led by Alejandro Nieto who will take over the captaincy for Juan Manuel Gaminara who is out with a knee injury. Uruguay will also have a medley of experience with five uncapped players included on the squad. Last year the the Eagles just barely lost to the Teros, but I’m calling a US victory now that Coach John Mitchell has had a year to organize his squad.
Canada vs. Argentina XV
Canada has a young squad with only half of the 23 man squad having previous test match experience. Scrum half Gordon McRorie of the Calgary Hornets will captain the squad. Taylor Paris will return from playing with Agen in France and will be a source of experience for many of the younger players to draw on. Included on the reserves are a three teenagers, Cole Keith, Matt Beukeboom and George Barton, who look like assets Canada looks to develop.
Argentina is made up by a number of 7s and U20 players this year. Its no surprise that Argentina will be taking the ARC as an opportunity to test out its younger players who have eyes on the senior mens team. Lautaro Bavaro will captain the team from flanker and the attack will be led by Domingo Miotti at flyhalf who already gained experience in the tournament last year at 19 years-old. Argentina will dominate this tournament even with a young squad. The Souths Americans should be able to make easy work of Canada on Saturday in Langford.
Brazil vs. Chile
Chile has a number of players to keep an eye out for this tournament. Loose forward Anton Petrowitsch is returning from playing professionally in Spain and he will be a key man to anchor the forwards. Simón Pardakhty has been playing well for French club Stade Rodez at center and will be useful in pounding the Brazilian defense. Claudio Zamorano will captain the squad.
Os Tupis is working with a team with little club experience outside of Brazil. The sole player based outside of Brazil is hooker Yan Rosetti who plays in Argentina. Despite this, Brazil nearly defeated Chile last year and a determined performance by Brazil could make this a close match. However, I see Chile’s experience trumping Brazil’s heart and predict that Los Cóndores will take home the victory.
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