The third round of the Americas Rugby Championship brings three competitive-looking fixtures. First up, on Friday, is Canada's game against Chile, where both sides go into the game in Langford hoping to open their accounts for the campaign following consecutive defeats. On Saturday, Argentina XV and Uruguay put their unbeaten starts on the line in Buenos Aires, in arguably the game of the round, and then, in Austin, USA play Brazil, the sides each having a win and a loss from their first two games.
With social media engagement reaching record levels after the first two rounds, the Americas Rugby Championship is fast becoming one of the most-talked-about tournaments in the calendar. Live television coverage ensures those that are not able to attend the games in person can keep up-to-date with all the developments as the competition reaches a crucial stage. Host broadcaster ESPN will cover most of the continent, with TSN in Canada and FloRugby in USA complementing coverage. The rest of the world will enjoy the games live on World Rugby’s platforms, including Facebook.
Canada (21) v Chile (29)
Having finished last year with qualification to Rugby World Cup 2019 assured, Canada have not managed to build on the momentum gained by their win at the repechage tournament in Marseille.
Narrow away defeats to Uruguay and Brazil have put them on the back foot and they will hoping that the return to home comforts in Langford will bring about a change in fortunes.
Coach Kingsley Jones has a selected a team to stop a Chile outfit that have also lost their first two games, but showing clear signs of growth from game to game.
In the previous three Americas Rugby Championship encounters between the teams, Canada have won on each occasion but the margin of victory has closed with every year, from 51 points in 2016 to 16 in last year's fixture.
“What you can expect to see this Friday is us being more accurate and more composed, controlling the ball for a lot longer periods then we did against Brazil,” said Jones, who has made seven changes to his starting XV.
“Chile will come at us full of fire, they played very well against Uruguay themselves. They are very well coached, and well organised with good structure. It will not be an easy match for us.”
With eight places between them, a Canadian win won’t bring any World Rugby Rankings points but a big win for Chile would see them move above Germany.
Argentina XV v Uruguay
The two unbeaten teams in the Americas Rugby Championship 2019 come together in Buenos Aires in a game that could decide the shape of the tournament.
Regular opponents, Los Teros beat Argentina XV last year to win the World Rugby Nations Cup for a second consecutive year, although they haven’t yet enjoyed any success against them in this competition.
Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses travels to Buenos Aires with an experimental team, with 15 players unavailable through injury or due to club commitments. Eighteen-year-old Ignacio Rodríguez Bosch could make his first appearance for Uruguay at scrum-half in this non-capped game.
With the focus on Rugby World Cup 2019, there will be opportunities for players to showcase their talent, which, together with local pride and precious competition points, means there is a lot at stake.
At home, Argentina XV welcome back four players to their squad from Super Rugby team Los Jaguares, including test hooker Diego Fortuny to the bench and talented fly-half Domingo Miotti.
With rain expected in Buenos Aires, this could be a big leveller in a fixture that Argentina XV have still to lose – they won 24-21 in 2016 (with a 77th-minute penalty to win the game), 57-12 in 2017 and 34-17 last year.
USA (13) v Brazil (26)
Looking to bounce back after a tough loss against Argentina XV, defending champions USA face a Brazilian side on the rise after their 18-10 win at home against Canada.
With a powerful scrum that has had the better of the Maori All Blacks, Argentina XV and Canada in recent matches, much of the Brazilian game will be launched from their strong set pieces, which should move Gary Gold’s men to play an expansive game.
Despite the heavy 45-14 loss to Argentina XV in Cipolletti, an unexpectedly one-sided scoreline given two of the three previous meetings had ended in draws, the Eagles have not become a bad team overnight.
Returning from injury for their first home game of the year is captain Blaine Scully but Titi Lamositele, AJ MacGinty, Harley Wheeler and Duncan van Schalkwyk are all back with their clubs.
For Brazil, a first win in the USA – their only previous visit here was a tough 51-3 loss – could see them rise to 23rd in the World Rugby Rankings, their highest ever position. If they were to win by more than 15 points and Chile succeed in Langford, they could even overtake the Canadians.
* World Rugby Rankings positions are in brackets
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