The Americas Rugby Championship is upon us and I find myself in Canada!
I will update you all on developments with my day job soon but my travels with the USA Rugby have taken me North to British Columbia to work with the Eagles Forwards in the XV’s Tournament which features A teams from Canada, Argentina and Uruguay
The Americas Rugby Championship, last held in 2010, sees teams from the top Unions of both North and South America battle it out in a round robin format over 3 match days at the Westhills Stadium in Victoria for the prestigious title. The aim is to give emerging talent a chance to preform on the international stage to see if they have what it takes to progress to full caps for their countries.
My last foray North of the border was the double header against Canada with the All Americans (U20s) ahead of the Junior World Rugby Tournament in Utah back in May. We won the two closely contested games and I was impressed by the level of recent investment in the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence so will be interested to see how this is impacting on the players Coach Kieran Crowley has selected to take to the field for our northern neighbours.
Our opening match is against Argentina, a country which has embraced the game of rugby. They are holders of the Americas Rugby Championship title, their U20s came 4th in the JWC in 2012 and their men’s team performed well against the powerhouses of the southern hemisphere the Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks in their first appearance in the recent Rugby Championship. We expect a stiff test in our opening encounter.
Uruguay will also offer strong opposition as they are currently the second ranked nation in South America behind Argentina and have a wealth of experience in their team at senior level. We face them in our final game on October 20th.
The USA Select team is headed up by Eagles Coach Mike Tolkin. I met Mike when the U20s had a training session with the Men’s team in Colorado but the Americas Rugby Championship will be my first time working with him and the other senior team coaches.
Mike has spoken often in the press about his belief in player development from Junior to Senior levels and this tournament is an opportunity to work with players who may be ready to progress.
On his approach to team selection Tolkin said “We picked the squad based on guys who were new to the Eagle squad or did not previously get as much playing time. The majority of these players showed well at the All-American camp, in club rugby and at other camps.”
“The ARC is a big opportunity for us. We rely on this to view our new prospects and to get some players who will play for the Eagles some actual game time in an international match” added Tolkin.
The Tournament will only feature two teenagers, so I’m unlikely to get much insight into individual players the USA U20s will face in the 2013 Junior World Championships however I will get a good indication of the standard the boys will come up against in France next summer as over a third of the players have competed at either JWC or JWRT.
This is an encouraging statistic and shows that the Americas Rugby Championship is another stepping stone on the path to International duty for the players I work with to strive for. It also highlights the importance of IRB tournaments such as the Americas Rugby Championship in raising the standard of the game in the emerging nations through competitive matches.
This may be my first time working with some of the coaches but some of the players I already know. It will also be a bit of a reunion for myself and former Belmont Shore hooker now Glendale prop Zach Fenoglio (above, far right). Some of you might recognise Zach from my training videos on the LineoutCoach You Tube channel. There will be trouble if he hasn’t been keeping up my drills since his move to Colorado!
So here I go, into another Tournament. Its always great to be part of a team, about to enter battle but I have to admit, it’s difficult staying on the sidelines! #GoEagles
Watch The Americas Rugby Championship
Each game will be held at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC and live streaming will be available on the The Americas Rugby Championship website and SportsCanada.tv
The Americas Rugby Championship Schedule
- 5:30PM PST Argentina v USA
- 7:30PM PST Uruguay v Canada
Tue 16 Oct – The Americas Rugby Championship Round 2
- 5:30PM PST Argentina v Uruguay
- 7:30PM PST USA v Canada
Sat 20 Oct – The Americas Rugby Championship Round 3
- 5:30PM PST USA v Uruguay
- 7:30PM PST Argentina v Canada
The Americas Rugby Championship Teams
USA’s first match is against the holders of the 2010 title the experienced and powerful Argentina. Prop Ramiro Carrera weighs 125kg and is the heaviest man in the tournament so the front rows will have their work cut out to counter the force of Coach Daniel Hourcade’s side.
USA Coach Tolkin is positive going into the match. “It is always tough to play the Jaguars as they have a lot of guys coming out of the academy and training together. We will have our hands full for a challenging first game but our guys coming out of camp will be up for it.”
Domestic champions Ontario Blues form the bulk of hosts Canada’s A squad which features only home-based players. The club team toured South America this summer and beat Uruguay on their travels so will look to put this experience to good use in their opening match.
Coach Kieran Crowley has gone for a real mix of youth and experience with the youngest player Full Back Pat Kay (19) and the oldest Hooker Ray Barkwill (32).
Uruguay (Los Teros)
24 of head Coach Pablo Lamoine’s 26 players have full caps, totalling 150 appearances between them for their country. They also feature 3 JWC and 9 JWRT players and this experience should stand them in good stead.
Brothers Agustin and Juan Diego Ormaechea look more than capable of carrying on the tradition of top level performances for their country started by their father the legendary number 8.
The USA Select squad features players from wide range of domestic teams, with only one overseas based player. Derek Asbun, who played for English Premier side Wasps in 7s during the summer, plays professionally as Hooker for third tier side Rosslyn Park in the XVs format of the game.
The Americas Rugby Championship USA Rugby Team includes:
Nicholas Wallace (St Mary’s College)
Zachary Fenoglio (Glendale)
Derek Asbun (Rosslyn Park FC)
Stanton Moaalii (Glendale RFC)
Anthony Purpura (Boston)
Timothy Paulsen (Chicago Griffins)
Thomas Katzfey (Life University)
Nicholas Civetta (NYAC)
Graham Harriman (Chicago Griffins)
John Quill (Boston)
Kristopher Headlee (Life University)
Taylor Mokate (USA Rugby Sevens)
Eric Duechle (Belmont)
Cameron Dolan (Life University)
Shaun Davies (BYU)
Benny Mateialona (Life University)
Volney Rouse (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Zachary Pangelinan (OMBAC)
Casey Clark (At Large)
Jack Tracy (Belmont Shore)
Zachary Mizell (Arkansas State University)
Joseph Cowley (Life University)
Dean Gericke (Arkansas State University)
Miles Craigwell (OPSB)
Christopher Chapman (NYAC)
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