This is the 8th edition of the Americas Rugby Championship, though the tournament has gone through several changes over the years. Initially it was a regional even comprised of two sides each from Canada and the United States. In 2009 it had four Canadian teams, one American, and one from Argentina. The Canadian contingent would later be moved into its own competition, now known as the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC).
A major shift came in 2010, when the tournament moved to Argentina and added a Tongan side to go with official Canadian and American select sides. After a gap in 2011 due to the conflicting World Cup, it returned in 2012, but this time turning up in Langford, British Columbia, and Uruguay replaced Tonga, making it a true ‘Americas’ lineup, a revival of the old Pan Am Championship of days gone by. Rugby Canada continues to host the event, though it’s unclear if it will remain on the west coast following another gap year in 2015.
Argentina have been far and away the dominant side since signing up in 2009. To date their record stands at a perfect 11 wins with no losses, and have outscored their opposition by an overwhelming 386 points for to 112 against. With another strong squad announced to take part this year, it looks unlikely that the trend will change.
THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Canada’s Derek Daypuck was a surprise inclusion given that his last test appearance for Canada was in the 2007 World Cup, but as recently as 2010 he was seen wearing the red jersey in that year’s rendition of the ARC.
Interestingly, 60% of this year’s participants have previous appearances in the tournament. Canada have the highest number with 19 repeat offenders
Only two players remain from the inaugural tournament in 2006. Louis Stanfill of the United States and of course Daypuck, who will be appearing in his 6th ARC. For Stanfill this will be number 4. Other old timers include front rowers Doug Wooldridge (Canada) and Phil Thiel (USA), both in their 5th go, and 4 each for Ray Barkwill (Canada), Nick Blevins (Canada), Nanyak Dala (Canada), and Brian Doyle (USA). Blevins was named in the squad last year but had to withdraw due to injury.
Argentina flyhalf Patricio Fernandez is the odds-on favorite to lead the tournament in scoring as he did last year, with 25 points over the three days.
Daypuck is the oldest player on show at 36 years of age, and the only player born in the 1970s taking part. Barkwill and Uruguay captain Francisco Bulanti are next up at 34. At the other end of the spectrum is Canadian fullback Andrew Coe, literally half the age of Daypuck at 18 and the only player born in 1996.
Stanfill is the most experienced player in terms of international caps with 48 to his name. By contrast Argentina’s most capped is captain Rodrigo Baez with 15.
In terms of size, three heavyweights topping 128kg (280lbs), or 20st if you’re from the UK, can be found, unsurprisingly all at prop. Argentina’s Lucas Martinez, Uruguay’s Francisco Jimenez, and USA’s Olive Kilifi, who the American website claims is only 118kg (260lbs) but actually tipped the scales at 295lbs (134kg) earlier this year. Jimenez is officially the heaviest at 132kg (290lbs), but the fact is they’re all big.
USA pair Brian Doyle and Matt Trouville are the only players to hit 2m (6’7”) in height. We’ll have to see them standing next to each other to decide who is actually taller.
The wee man award goes to Uruguay scrumhalf Guillermo Lijstinstein, whose name is nearly as long as he is. Standing just 169cm (5’6”) and weighing 72kg (160lbs), he’s a long way down from the beast-men up front.
Back rower Clayton Panga of Canada holds a unique distinction in that he was originally selected as part of the BC side in 2009, but as a centre!