Silverware is on the line in Villajoyosa this coming weekend as Spain and USA bid to become the first La Vila International Rugby Cup champions.
The teams will meet in Saturday’s final having lived up to their favourites’ tag in the semi-final with Spain beating Canada 42-20 and USA seeing off Brazil 48-3 in the first match of the day at El Patano Stadium.
A well-earned cap for Eagle 569 🦅— USA Rugby (@USARugby) November 11, 2023
What a start to your USA career, Joe Mano 👏 pic.twitter.com/SNXXW9RG8Q
Winger Joe Mano marked his test debut with a first-half hat-trick and Tommaso Boni bagged a brace before replacements Thomas Tu'avao, Lauina Futi and Dominic Besag added further tries in a dominant win for the USA Men’s Eagles.
Spain also hit the ground running and were 35-6 up at half-time following a quickfire double from scrum-half Estanislao Bay and tries from Ekain Imaz, Gonzalo López and Martiniano Cian.
Canada rallied in the second half to score two tries themselves through Cole Keith and Mitch Richardson, which Peter Nelson converted to add to his two first-half penalties.
But Spain had the final word when replacement prop Marcos Muñiz came off the bench to score their sixth try of the game four minutes from time.
The results mean that USA will still go into the final of La Vila International Rugby Cup as the higher-ranked of the teams in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
USA remain in 18th place with Spain 19th but the difference between the teams has been cut to 1.68 points as Los Leones were awarded 0.51 points compared to just 0.01 for the USA.
Canada and Brazil, who will face each other in the third-place play-off, remain 23rd and 26th in the rankings.
Switzerland continue winning ways
Spain was not the only place where you could watch test rugby in Europe at the weekend with a couple of key Rugby Europe Trophy ties and one Rugby Europe Conference match also taking place outside of events in Villajoyosa.
Switzerland made it two wins from two to sit on top of the Trophy standings after a 31-17 win away to Lithuania. It was a result that also lifted them above the Netherlands in the rankings to 27th.
Meanwhile, Croatia have climbed up to 37th on the back of their 41-5 win over Ukraine, which opened their account for the season after they’d lost to Czechia in their opening match.
Latvia are the leaders of Pool A in the Conference after a 53-8 win over bottom-of-the-table Norway.
The only other match that counted towards the rankings was the Elgon Cup encounter between Kenya and Uganda in Kisumu.
The home side Kenya won 20-13 to reassert their regional dominance after they’d lost to the Rugby Cranes in agonising fashion in last weekend’s Victoria Cup final in Kampala.
The Simbas’ fifth straight Elgon Cup success increased their rating to 51.12 points but that was not enough for them to improve on 34th place in the rankings. Uganda drop one position to 40th.