Preview: Argentina v USA
WORLD CUP POOL MATCH: The quarter-finals may be out of sight, but Argentina and USA still have plenty riding on it when the two sides meet on Wednesday.
Both teams are chasing third place in Pool C and automatic qualification for World Cup 2023.
Wins against Argentina on Wednesday and Tonga on Sunday would put the Eagles in third place.
“A single win is massive and it can come in this game,” said flyhalf AJ MacGinty.
“It’s huge for us as a team and the stamp we want to put on American rugby’s legacy but also the growth of the game in America … A third-place finish is something that’s never been done. For us, as a group, that’s a massive motivational thing.”
Conferencia de prensa – #ARGvUSA
🎙Juan Fernández Lobbe: ““El partido es la oportunidad para empezar a construir algo. No olvidándose de todo lo que se hizo, sino tomándolo, tanto lo que funcionó como lo que no funcionó para que ese proceso sea una mejora continua” pic.twitter.com/f4gpj4Wy3s
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) October 8, 2019
As Argentina play their last match of World Cup 2019, they bid farewell to retiring flank Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who has won 86 caps and featured in the side that finished third in RWC 2007.
“The last few days have been hard, with too much going on in my head, too many feelings,” said Leguizamon.
He makes his first start of the tournament, his fourth World Cup.
“I’m trying to focus on the present, which is tomorrow’s game against the United States and hope that as a team, we can leave that field laughing and hugging and a little happier. That is the goal.”
Argentina have won all eight of the previous encounters between the two side. They have not faced each other for 16 years: the last time was in the old stadium of the Buenos Aires Cricket and Rugby Club, in front of 6,000 spectators.
The USA Eagles are seeking their first victory at a Rugby World Cup since their 13-8 win against Russia in 2011. They struggled to make much of an impact in their opening game against England, but were much improved against France, despite the 33-9 score.
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) October 8, 2019
Coach Gary Gold said this week, “We came to this World Cup to perform. I think so far, particularly against France, we had a very good performance, but we want to take that to a different level now.”
Young scrumhalf Ruben de Haas, at just 22, embodies the new era of USA players. He gets his first start of the World Cup against Los Pumas after a good showing off the bench against France.
De Haas plays in the Pro14 with the Cheetahs in South Africa. If he can help his side achieve automatic World Cup qualification for 2023, he will be part of a growing generation of USA players for whom the American rugby landscape could change enormously.
“Argentina have dangerous backs that like to play ball in hand. When we played them (Argentina XV) in the ARC (Americas Rugby Championship), the game was so fast, they almost ran us off our feet. It’ll be a fast game,” said De Haas.
Argentina field promising 23-year-old Juan Cruz Mallia at outside-centre. Having featured in two Junior World Championships, as captain for one, he has played for Argentina XV, Jaguares and now is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut.
Player to watch:
For Argentina: Juan Manuel Leguizamon will make his first start of the World Cup in an Argentina team. While flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez returns at No.10 having been left out of the match-day 23 against England.
For USA: Young scrumhalf Ruben de Haas, who will make his first start for the USA after impressing as a replacement against England and France, will be one to keep an close eye on. Flyhalf AJ MacGinty moved into second place on the all-time USA points scoring list in the Eagles’ 9-33 defeat by France. Centre Bryce Campbell, making his second start of the tournament, is the only USA player to have scored a try at RWC 2019 with an 80th-minute consolation score against England.
Head to head: The halfback battle will be one to look out for – USA Eagles AJ MacGinty and Ruben de Haas going up against Los Pumas Nicolas Sanchez and Felipe Ezcurra.
Prediction: The USA Eagles may fancy their chances against an experimental Los Puma side, however, South America will be too good and will take this by 15 points or more.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Juan Cruz Mallia, 12 Jeronimo de La Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Enrique Pieretto Heiland, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Martin Bertranou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Matías Moroni.
United States: 15 Mike Te’o, 14 Blaine Scully (captain), 13 Bryce Campbell, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 6 Tony Lamborn, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Nate Brakeley, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Fawsitt, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Paul Mullen, 19 Ben Landry, 20 Ben Pinkelman, 21 Nate Augspurger, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Martin Iosefo.
Date: Wednesday, October 9
Venue: Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya City
Kick-off: 13.45 (00.45 USA Eastern time; 01.45 Argentina time; 04.45 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be warm with a high of 29 and a low of 19. There will be clear skies and a strong breeze
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)