ARC defending champs Argentina were expected to be a tough test for the USA Select at the Americas Rugby Championship. And they were.
Rugby is a game where, if you don’t take your chances and the opposition do, you can find yourself on the wrong end of a bad scoreline. This was the case in our opening match of the ARC Tournament against the Jaguars at the Westhills Stadium.
It was never going to be easy, Argentina have never lost a game in the ARC and are favourites to retain their title. On this display it would be hard to argue against them. In attack they were quick and clever, in defence they were physical and organised and should prove formidable opposition to Uruguay and Canada in the following rounds.
Here’s my quick review of how I saw the US team perform in the 3 key aspects of the game.
The USA players were up for the challenge and at times showed real fight against a more experienced and established team. The USA squad knew that physically they would be up against a strong pack and the scrums proved a particular test. The wet and windy conditions didn’t help the flow of the game and USA got a number of penalties but couldn’t benefit from the put ins. Its difficult for any team to win with this disadvantage but we tried different combinations what we learned may be useful in the next games where we should be up against a more equal pack in terms of power.
The boys ran and fought for 80+ minutes and with our next match on Tuesday against Canada our strength and conditioning coach Tim Hanway will have his work cut-out to get the players ready for action. Injuries mean that there will be changes to the team and some fresh faces will pull on the shirt against our northern neighbours.
Technical skills are not just about what you do with the ball but what you let the opposition do with it.
The Jaguars displayed some deft passing skill at times and defensively they were ready to engage whenever the US tried to advance. For the Eagles, the lack of playing time together showed both in attack and defence.
The scrum was so dominated by power we couldn’t judge the technical aspects but the lineout proved to be more successful of the set-piece plays, although a change at Hooker looks possible for the next game with Asburn’s knock.
Passion for playing for their country was never in question. You just had to be in the room when the shirts were handed out to the team to see what it meant to each man picked. A major part of this tournament for Coach Tolkin was to see how players reacted on the field, when the whistle had blown and they were up against top class opposition.
Speaking ahead of the Tournament, he said “I know guys will make mistakes but what I want are guys who are tough-minded. If they make a mistake are they ready for the challenge – do they want the ball again? It’s not the mistake so much, as how they respond to adversity.”
Physically you can improve with training. Technically you progress through practice drills. Mentally you only truly develop by being in the game. The crowd, the expectation, the scenarios, the weather conditions all contribute to test a players mental strength. Some grow in these conditions, some struggle, and this is where experience like the ARC is vital in raising the standard of play.
The USA did make mistakes. Chances to score were missed and there were tries late in both halves that could have been avoided. Rugby is unforgiving if you let your concentration drop and we paid the price on a number of occasions. Lessons we’ll need to learn for the next game.
‘When Something Bad Happens You Have Three Choices. You Can Either Let It Define You, Let It Destroy You, Or You Can Let It Strengthen You.”
The Rugby Journey
Don’t get me wrong. I hate losing and so do the players. A scoreline of 39-3 is disappointing but the ARC was always intended as a learning curve. For coaches to learn about players and the standard of the opposition. For players to learn about themselves and their potential.
Against Argentina we all learned we are playing catchup against a country that has embraced the game and earned its place at the Top Tier of the sport. Despite the defeat, it’s inspiring to see what hardwork and focus can deliver and this is what USA must look to emulate moving forward.
Our next test comes on Tuesday at 7:30pm PST (on sportscanada.tv/rugbycanada) against a Canadian side coming off a 28-10 win against Uruguay in their opening ARC encounter.
I am confident we have the players and coaches to take USA into the next match against the hosts and show who we are and what we’ve learned.
Onwards and upwards. #GoEagles
Thanks go to Judy Teasdale for use of her photographs.
ARC Round 1: Argentina 39 – USA 3
Argentina Jaguars 39 USA Selects 3
Tries: Rojas, Barrea, Moyano 3 Pens: Pangelinan
Convs: Iglesias 4
Pens: Iglesias 2
Argentina: 1-Francisco Piccinini, 2-Bruno Postiglioni, 3-Juan Gómez; 4-Felipe Aranguren, 5-Matías Alemanno; 6-Tomás De la Vega, 7-Rodrigo Bruno, 8-Benjamín Macome; 9-Tomás Cubelli (capitán), 10-Santiago González Iglesias; 11-Manuel Montero, 12-Javier Rojas, 13-Jerónimo De la Fuente, 14-Facundo Barrea; 15-Román Miralles.
Suplentes: 16-Ignacio Sáenz Lancuba, 17-Ramiro Herrera, 18-Martín García Veiga, 19-Alejandro Campos, 20-Lisandro Ahualli de Chazal, 21-Marcos Bollini, 22-Valentín Cruz y 23-Ramiro Moyano.
Coaches: Daniel Hourcade y Emiliano Bergamaschi.
USA: 1-Nicholas Wallace, 2-Derek Asbun, 3-Zachary Fenoglio; 4-Tom Katzfey, 5-Graham Harriman; 6-Cam Dolan, 7-John Quill, 8-Taylor Mokate; 9-Benny Mateialona, 10-Gearoid McDonald; 11-Zachary Pangelinan, 12-Jack Tracy, 13-Dean Gericke, 14-Cornelius Dirksen; 15-Chris Chapman.
Suplentes: 16-Stan Moaalii, 17-Tony Purpura, 18-Tim Paulsen, 19-Nicholas Civetta, 20-Kris Headlee, 21-Shaun Davies, 22-Zachary Mizell y 23-Miles Craigwell.
Coach: Mike Tolkin.
Match timeline from ARC website
A deep kick-off by the United States to the Argentines resulted in a knock on to start the game
13th min. A USA lineout is thrown in and is played to the centre of the pitch. A penalty results and is kicked for posts by Americas #10 Gearoid McDonald from just inside the Argentines half. The long boot misses just right.
16th min. A penalty rewarded to the Argentines, 35m out on the right side of the pitch in the American territory is converted by #10 Santiago Iglesias resulting in the first points of the game.
18th min. A superb thrust by American #1 Nicholas Wallace gains the US territory but a forward pass gains Argentina the advantage. A kick past the US 22m line is run back due to lack of support and is held in and penalized. The Argentines go for the posts just outside the 22 and is slotted by Argentina’s #10 and the score rises 6-0.
21st min. Penalty kick awarded to the Americans, and is missed by #10 from 40m out.
33rd min. #13 Dean Gericke breaks up the wing for the Americans after a quick penalty. He attempts a cheeky grubber but adds a little too much power to it and is returned.
37th min. An Argentina line out on the USA 22 is played in, where #9 Captain Tomas Cubelli finds space in the US backline. He passes to the open #12 Javier Rojas who gets over for the first try of the game. The try is easily converted raising the score to 13-0.
39th min. From the following kick off the Pumas are penalized for holding the ball in a ruck. The American fly-half once again tries to slot it through the posts and misses ever so slightly to right side.
40th min. An American scrum is won by Argentina and finding ample room on the blindside Captain Tomas Cubelli #9 darts and finds space. A quick toss to his fly-half results in another try which he converts from the sideline, the score rises to 20-0 and the half-time whistle is blown.
47th min. Tempers flare just outside the Argentinian 22 and a penalty is rewarded to the US. Attempting to go for the posts is #11 Zachary Panelinan, who places the American side on the scoreboard with their first point’s game. 20-3.
50th min. A missed US pass within their 22 gives the opposing #8 Benjamin Macome a run towards the tryzone; but a long grubber kick goes out the end and the US is bailed out with a 22m kick.
56th min. A grubber by American #10 Gearoid McDonald is picked up by Pumas sub #22 Valetin Cruz and is swiftly run down three quarters of the pitch with the American fly half close behind but to no avail as the try is scored. The conversion is missed and Argentina rises to 25-3.
69th min. An Argentina lineout is won and seeing the surplus numbers on the far side of the pitch, the ball is swung wide for another try by #23 Moyano Ramiro and converted by #22 Valetin Cruz. 32-3 Argentina.
73rd min. A penalty ceded by the Argentina gives the Americans a quick tap and a valiant charge up the middle of the pitch to within 5m of a try but the Argentinian defense proves to much and a scrum is called when the ball is knocked on by the US.
Injury time. A great thrust up the side of the pitch by Argentina is stopped by a desperate tackle; as the ball finds its way out of bounds. A quick throw in by the Americans is proven too hasty as #23 Moyano Ramiro catches the ball and is run under the posts to exemplify the Argentines win with a point blank convert raising the score to a 39-3 win over the American side.
The Americas Rugby Championship Schedule
- Argentina 39 – 3 USA
- Uruguay 10-28 Canada
Tue 16 Oct – ARC Round 2
- 5:30PM PST Argentina v Uruguay
- 7:30PM PST USA v Canada
Sat 20 Oct – ARC Round 3
- 5:30PM PST USA v Uruguay
- 7:30PM PST Argentina v Canada
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby U20s Forwards Coach, is a former Ireland A & 7s, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now based in California and taking rugby to the USA. He writes for RugbyMag.com and other publications when not coaching for Belmont Shore and blogging on lineoutcoach.com