Argentina and Uruguay renew their friendly neighborhood rivalry in the second round of the Americas Rugby Championship early Wednesday evening. Uruguay have never beaten Argentina at senior level, hardly a surprising statistic considering Argentina have an extra forty years of history behind them and more importantly around 15 times the number of players to choose from. Last year’s spread was 34 points but only two years ago it was only 11, so it would not be unprecedented for this to be closer than expected, but guarded optimism might be more appropriate.
As expected it’s all change for Los Jaguares, retaining only four players who started against the Americans on Saturday. A whole new front row comes in, led by promising hooker Julián Montoya. Paris-based second row Juan Cruz Guillemaín is an aerial specialist, and into the back row come experienced Francisco Panessi and u20 standout Tomás Lezana.
Gonzalo Bertranou partners teenager Ignacio Albornoz in a new-look halfback combination. Albornoz is another tall, rangy flyhalf who is also comfortable in the outside backs. A real danger man will be Juan Ignacio Brex in the midfield. The powerful runner has been a standout at every level thus far and will be looking to cement his name into the side against Canada on Saturday.
Uruguay have been bolstered with the addition of five members of the squad that beat Russia on Saturday, with the three reservists thrown straight into the starting lineup. Juan de Freitas adds his pace to a very quick back row that also includes Gabriel Puig, and stocky Leandro Leivas moves into the midfield. Alejo Durán enters at scrumhalf and will pair with untested Manuel Blengio at flyhalf, with Matias Arocena moving to fullback.
Pedro Dolsan, previously an age-grade international for Argentina, starts at inside centre, with Rodrigo Bocking bumped onto the left wing. Mateo Sanguinetti and Juan Etcheverría are fresh legs in the front row, though Sanguinetti will be conceding an enormous amount of weight to rotund opposite Lucas Martínez. Matías Beer makes way for Fernando Bascou in the second row, which adds a little strength but sacrifices lineout height.
When these two sides last met in May it was a 54 point blowout. Granted only handful from each side took part, but there isn’t much difference in terms of relative strength. Both sides are experimental, especially at the crucial flyhalf position, so it will be interesting to see how the opposing younsters perform. Ultimately Argentina have far too much talent to let this one slide. Look for Los Jaguares to hit their stride late in the first half and take this home in a similar fashion to last year. Argentina by 30.
ARGENTINA JAGUARS vs URUGUAY ‘A’
Wednesday, October 15, 18:00 PST, Langford
*reserves for both teams unconfirmed