Here, we highlight a few facts and figures ahead of the opening round of matches, including the various World Rugby Rankings permutations.
CHILE V BRAZIL
Having seen their respective sevens side recently taste success by booking their place in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong Sevens, Chile and Brazil will be hoping to kick off their Americas Rugby Championship campaigns on a winning note in what is a shootout between the fifth and sixth seeds. On paper, this would look to be the most winnable game for either country.
They first met in 1951 and Chile have been the dominant force ever since, winning 17 and losing only two of the previous 20 fixtures. There has been one draw. Last time out, Chile won 32-3 in Santiago. In 2004, Brazil recorded their first win over Chile for 23 years: 24-16 in Sao Paulo.
- Former international Elias Santillan takes charge of Chile in the wake of Paul Healy’s resignation as head coach a couple of months ago.
- Brazil have named twins, Felipe and Daniel Sancery, and David Harvey, the son of Australian cricketing legend Neil, in their backline.
- Chile can call upon two brothers of their own who ply their trade overseas in Francisco and Sergio de la Fuente.
Defeat in Santillan's first match in charge could cost Los Condores as many as three World Rugby Ranking points – and a drop of six places to 30th. They are unable to improve their position regardless of how well they fare, because they are currently 18 places higher in the rankings than the Tupis. Brazil, however, would jump seven places to 35th in the world if they upset the odds and win well in Santiago.
CANADA V URUGUAY
Two sides from RWC 2015 collide at the Westhills Stadium in Langford. They first met in 1995 and Canada have won all bar one of the previous eight meetings. Uruguay’s solitary win came in 2002 when they prevailed 25-23 at the River Plate Stadium in Montevideo. The most recent clash was at the 2010 Churchill Cup, RWC 2015 star DTH van der Merwe scoring twice in a 48-6 win.
- Los Teros will be led by Juan Manuel Gaminara following the retirement of Santiago Vilaseca. The combative flanker is one of 15 players that took part in Uruguay’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
- Both have new head coaches in place: Francois Ratier on an interim basis for Canada and Argentinian Esteban Meneses for Uruguay.
- Watch out for Uruguay’s relatively new half-back combination of Guillermo Lijtenstein and Rodrigo Silva, who step up in the absence of first choice duo Agustín Ormaechea and Felipe Berchesi.
- Led by Hubert Buydens, Canada have named six debutants in their starting XV: Paul Ciulini, Lucas Rumball, Clay Panga, Gradyn Bowd, Dan Moor and Mozac Samson
- Uruguay will reach 6,000 points conceded in their 65-year history of playing tests if they ship 18 against Canada.
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USA V ARGENTINA XV
The only match not to count towards the rankings in the opening weekend, given it is an Argentina XV side and not the full national side, this encounter in Houston will still be an interesting one to watch with the array of up-and-coming talent on show. It will also be the first time that former All Blacks coach John Mitchell takes charge of the Eagles since being named as Mike Tolkin’s replacement.
- Full-back Ramiro Moyano and hooker Santiago Iglesias Valdez are two notable names in the Argentina XV. Both played for Los Pumas in the historic 49-31 win against the star-studded Barbarians at Twickenham last November. Moyano is one of three Super Rugby contracted players, Rodrigo Báez and Matías Orlando being the others.
- Long-time USA captain Todd Clever returns to the Eagles' fold with fellow Newcastle Falcon Eric Fry, while other overseas professionals Cam Dolan, Taku Ngwenya, Greg Peterson, and Blaine Scully have also been included in the Eagles' starting line-up with the latter named as captain.
- Watch out for Houston-born speedster Kingsley McGowan who'll be looking to impress his home crowd. McGowan, a member of the USA's World Rugby U20 Trophy winning side of 2012, scored a hat-trick on his all-American debut against Canada in 2012 and has pace to burn. Could he be the next Carlin Isles?