Originally published by Global Rugby Network (@globalrugbynet) on 1/31/17
By Jason Graves of Rugby Nation USA
What is the Americas Rugby Championship or simply ARC? Excuse me if I call it America’s 6 Nations, I’m from the U.S. where history is a thing of the past. Created way back in 2009 the ARC was organizationally designed to challenge national developmental squads, in 2015 the focus changed. Following the 2015 World Cup Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the United States, and Uraguay matched their best (well, best available) in our very own regional tournament. The developmental squads, or select sides, still compete but that’s the America’s Pacific Challenge (APC) and I won’t confuse you by describing that.
Seriously though, the ARC is a huge step forward for rugby in the Western Hemisphere. As I mentioned, many tend to forget our history in the U.S., things like back-to-back Olympic medals, inventing what is now the standard line-out pass (his name was Pete Dawkins), or that the game has been played here since 1874. So when people see rugby and say, “Hey, what’s that?” I cringe. The ARC is one more step toward making our nation and our hemisphere better, increasing visibility, and eventually paving the way toward stable professionalism and legitimately competing on the world stage. Ok, I know…slow down. I know it will take time, we all know it’s a test of patience but the ARC gives our Tier 2 nations a way to improve.
Last year’s champion still uses the ARC to develop players, they remain the benchmark all other North and South American countries aspire to reach. Participating in the Southern Hemisphere’s Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa provides Los Pumas all the competition they need to improve their Test squad, but it’s not like they field a bunch of kids as their second team is formidable enough for any Tier 2 nation. The player I’m keeping my eye on is their uncapped 22 year old captain Lautaro Bavaro.
The 6’2″ 97kg Flanker is known for his leadership and decision-making as well as his powerful runs and solid tackle technique, something often missing from the often carded Los Pumas.
Brazil stunned the U.S. last year and finished 1 point ahead of last place Chile. Look for fullback Daniel Sancery (SC Albi- Pro D2) to continue racking up tries after scoring 4 in last years tourney.
The Candians are at a crossroads. The program seems to be trending downward but there is still a heartbeat. Player to watch, besides the obvious Connor Trainor, will be 19 year old and versatile loose forward George Barton (Clermont Auvergne – developmental). He’s a powerful runner and agile for a big man (6’0″ 104kg).
Los Condores have a lot of growing to do and with no single name for me to highlight I’m going to focus on their forwards, power will be their game until the skill develops.
Here in the States we get rather frustrated at the fact our internationals aren’t afforded the same choice to join their country during the international window…well, they can but it just might affect their contracts. The squads will be a mix and match the entire tournament but opportunities will be plentiful for young players looking to make a name in time for Japan 2019. I’m hoping to see Ben Cima emerge at fullback and am looking forward to seeing young veteran Chris Baumann (pictured below) lead the front row.
Despite Brazil’s hosting the Olympics its Uruguay’s rugby program that’s growing quickly. Uruguayan Nicolás Freitas has signed on to play for the Jaguares the Argentina-based Super Rugby club, a first for the upstart nation.