Tournament hosts Canada open their ARC account against Uruguay, with both sides short of their best and having to fill in with unusual selections. Los Teros, of course, have more pressing obligations in Montevideo against Russia with the winner being granted the final spot in next year’s World Cup in England. Given that the result will be known before the start of the match in Langford, it would be interesting to be in the position of Mario Risso, stand-in coach with this development side. The emotions of either victory or defeat could very well impact his team’s performance, and even a Uruguayan win could throw off their concentration.
Understandably it seems the URU’s communications department is entirely preoccupied to the extent that the team to face Canada has not yet been announced and unlikely to be so until kickoff. With only a threadbare side of 22 players available – not even a full bench compliment – until reinforcements arrive their options are limited.
Their traditional strength up front will be tempered somewhat with some very inexperienced forwards, particularly in the second row, but the front row will at least be competitive. Rodolfo de Mula and Francisco Jimenez are both entering their third ARC and will hold the scrum, though they could be under pressure with a much heavier Canadian pack lined up against them.
Halfbacks Guillermo Lijstenstein and Matias Arocena have been around the and will at least have captain Francisco Bulanti to help out, though the veteran utility back is well on the downside of career. Federico Favaro, Nicolas Freitas, and Rodrigo Silva each have spent time on the national 7s side. For Silva this is also his 3rd ARC.
Kieran Crowley has sprung a couple surprises in the Canadian side, most notably selecting Gordon McRorie at flyhalf instead of his preferred scrumhalf position. McRorie excelled at no10 in the second half of the CRC with the Wolf Pack so it’s not a left-field selection, and could be an indication that Patrick Parfrey is still short of full fitness. Derek Daypuck partners Nick Blevins in a strong looking midfield with skilled footballer Sean Ferguson moved to the wing from his usual fullback spot.
A big pack up front features Evan Olmstead on the blindside flank despite spending the entire CRC in the second row. PEI native Kyle Baillie lines up at lock beside Aaron Flagg, and Seb Pearson is given first crack at no8 ahead of Admir Cejvanovic. The bench has a 6-2 split, though Clay Panga’s versatility could see him in the backs once again if the need should arise.
This won’t be the greatest game of rugby, to be frank. Uruguay are very short handed, and on paper appear overwhelmed at nearly every position. The Canadian lineup isn’t too flash either, with only half the side realistically in contention for a World Cup spot, but there is enough skill and experience to get through this game at least. Expect a sloppy game with the home side getting through fairly easily by 20.
CANADA ‘A’ vs URUGUAY ‘A’
Saturday, October 11, 16:30 PST, Langford
*presumed Uruguayan lineup