Argentina this weekend showed the difference regular competition against top opponents makes when what was effectively their second team convincingly beat the USA in the second round of the America’s championship.
Argentina was ranked ninth by World Rugby before this weekend’s matches, and the Argentina XV comprehensively accounted for the Eagles (12) in Argentina’s Rio Negro province.
The score was 45-14 to the Argentinians who only allowed the Eagles their two tries in the 77th minute (penalty try) and the 79th minute.
The victory places the Argentina XV at the top of the table with their points for (99) and against (17) giving them a healthy points difference of 82 ‒ well ahead of also unbeaten and second placed Uruguay’s 18 points difference and the 32 of the Eagles, who have however lost one match.
♦ The Eagles were captained by former Stormers, Western Province and Ikeys Tigers utility back Marcel Brache, who was born in California but raised in South Africa. He also played for the Western Force.
The only other South African in this weekend’s American squad was Ruben de Haas, who played for the Cheetahs. His father Pieter represented the Cheetahs and his grandfather Gerhard represented the Free State and Northern Transvaal and played in the 1967 final trial match as a flyhalf before the Springbok team against France was announced. Piet Visagie, however, got the Bok selectors’ nod.
Ruben attended school in Arkansas, played for the USA U19s with his development path going through the USA High School All-Americans, the USA Junior All-Americans and the USA Selects before making his international debut against Chile last year.
He also played some rugby for CUT in the Varsity Cup, the Free State U19s and was contracted by the Cheetahs last year.
♦ The Argentina XV, who were well ahead at the break (21-0) this weekend, did not make use of the Jaguares players who are kicking off their Super Rugby programme at home this weekend against the Lions, who after four years have not won an away game to the Jaguares.
♦ Brazil also caused an upset when they beat Canada 18-10, with all Canada’s points coming in the first nine minutes through a penalty, a try and a conversion by fullback Ciaran Hearn. Brazil only took the lead in the 47th minute with the fourth of Josh Reeves’ six penalties, their only points.
♦ In the other match Uruguay beat Chile 20-5 in a match Uruguay deserved to win.
♦ With the Championship falling outside the test window the USA and Canada could not use many of their players currently on contract in Europe.