With the 2012 IRB Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) kicking off in two days, on Friday, October 12th, Rugby Canada was pleased to host the event's kick off press conference on Wednesday in Langford, BC.
The event, which is a three-day, double header round robin-style tournament that takes place on October 12th, 16th and 20th, will see teams from the USA, Argentina and Uruguay travel to Westhills Stadium in Langford to join the Canadian squad. The tournament has been held twice previously, with Argentina taking home the championship in 2009 and 2010 and the event going on hiatus in 2011 due to the Rugby World Cup.
Anxious to get their first game under their belt and the tournament underway, day one gets underway with a 5:30pm kick off between the USA and Argentina. These two squads have faced off nine times previously, with the last match up also taking place on Canadian soil when Argentina barely came away with a 34 ˆ 30 victory at the 2005 Churchill Cup in Edmonton, AB.
Argentinian Captain Tomas Cubelli noted how important this competition is now that the senior Pumas team is involved in the new Rugby Championship - the renamed Tri-Nations that saw South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina face off in a home and away schedule in September.
"It is so important that we have these opportunities to develop our next level of players - so coming here to Canada is excellent and a way to show our players another level of competition," said Cubelli. "We know that America is a very physical opponent, that player has good size and offers a dynamic game. Similarly, we think of ourselves and to want to impose our game. "
Cubelli's coach Daniel Hourcade was glowing about the opportunity this tournament presents his team.
"We are very happy to be here," said Hourcade. "This is very important for us, it's very good competition for younger players and a new opportunity for international rugby."
The US, unable to make the press conference due to their travel schedule, have always proved to be competitive and will most likely see some fans from home with Langford's proximately to the US border.
The second game of the double-header on Friday will see the Canadian squad, which is comprised of the top players from the Canadian Rugby Championship teams, begin their tournament against Uruguay, slated for a 7:30pm kick off at Westhills Stadium.
Although the last time Canada faced off against Uruguay was at the 2010 Churchill Cup in Glendale, Colorado, which saw Canada come away with a 48-6 victory, many of the players on this Canadian team will be familiar with Uruguay.
Ten members of the Canadian side were selected from the 2012 MacTier Cup winning Ontario Blues team that toured South America earlier this year and played this very same Uruguay team.
Canada coach Kieran Crowley - who arrived to the press conference with a pair of crutches following a recent knee operation, was full of praise of the ARC tournament and how it helps him develop domestic based players ahead of a challenging November tour to the UK which will see Canada take on Samoa, Russia in Wales and against the New Zealand Maori at Oxford University.
"It will be great to be able to play these games at our own facility and be able to look at players for our upcoming tour," said Crowley.
Canadian team Captain - 21 year old Ontario native Tyler Ardron - says the whole system of centralizing the training of players in Langford has been a great experience and he feels it is starting to pay off dividends.
"Since I have moved to Langford it has been great training every day and now being able to play games at this level will give the community a chance to see what we are doing and why we are working so hard," said Ardron, who has been a big part of the Canadian Sevens program as well in 2012.
Teros Coach Pablo Lemoine - a legendary prop forward for many years for his country, acknowledged the fine reception his team has had in Canada and how his team has recovered following a nearly 30 hour trip from Montevideo in South America.
"Everything has been perfect since we arrived and now that we have gotten the team on the training pitch it is even better. It was a very long trip but now we are here to play rugby and we are looking forward to the game against Canada," said Lemoine.
Also present for the press conference were two of the three referees who will be officiating the matches during the three game days, Joaquin Montes from Uruguay and Juan Sylvestre from Argentina, as well as the Referee Manager for the IRB Americas Rugby Championship and Senior Manager of Rugby Development Match Officials and National Competitions, Trevor Arnold. The third official is Bryan Arciero from Canada.
Fans can purchase their tickets to any of the double header nights as well as a tournament passes at tickets.rugbycanada.ca or by going to Spank It Sports on Cloverdale Ave or to the City of Langford City Hall on the 2nd floor. For fans who cannot make it out to Langford but don't want to miss any of the action, all of the matches will be streamed online at www.sportscanada.tv/rugbycanada .
Rugby Canada would like to wish all the teams, staff and match officials participating good luck during the tournament and would like to thank all of our sponsors, the City of Langford and Tourism Victoria for all their help in putting together this event.
Arrive early to avoid traffic. Enter via the Langford Parkway entrance in the North East corner of the stadium. Parking can be found across the street or in the lots near the Eagle Ridge centre. Rugby Canada encourages car pooling or public transit.
2012 IRB Americas Rugby Championship
1089 Langford Parkway,
Friday, October 12th
USA v Argentina, kick off at 5:30pm
Canada v Uruguay, kick off at 7:30pm
Tuesday, October 16th
Argentina v Uruguay, kick off at 5:30pm
Canada v USA, kick off at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 20th
USA v Uruguay, kick off at 5:30pm
Canada v Argentina, kick off at 7:30pm