An off-field victory was ensured this past week as USA Rugby gained confirmed access to its players contracted to Aviva Premiership teams for the upcoming break-through home fixture against New Zealand in Chicago. Securing player release means that the North Americans will be able to have a strong team go up against the number one team in the world, the All Blacks. It has, however, come at a cost as the agreement reached means that the Aviva Premiership players will return from Chicago to England and play no part in the subsequent tests against Romania, Tonga and Fiji in Europe. What is the opinion of those who dedicate their time to covering our great sport in the United States. Argentina 2023 seeks to find the answer to the the question on everyone’s mind.
What is your opinion over the move by USA Rugby to free-up Aviva Premiership players for the All Blacks test match in Chicago but, in doing so, not be able to have them play any part in the European tour test matches against Romania, Tonga and Fiji?
Pat Clifton (Rugby Today)
”I think it’s a gamble by USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville. If the Eagles play competitively enough to put the twinkle in the eyes of mainstream American sports media and fans, then the gamble paid off. If they get run off the paddock and it’s a four-try game by halftime, then it didn’t pay off. That’s oversimplifying all of it, but that’s the crux of the issue for me.” Continue reading
The ITM Cup Premiership and Championship 2014 finals are here already, we have seen 14 teams in action over 73 matches. Interestingly in this competition, four of the 14 teams will be playing this weekend, and they are all provinces rather than the usual big city teams. Taranaki and Tasman eliminated Auckland and Canterbury, leaving two of the traditional minnows to play in the final of the ITM Cup Premiership for the first time.
The entire ITM Cup 2014 has seen the provinces dominate with bigger unions like Wellington, Waikato, Otago, Bay of Plenty and North Harbour all missing out on the semi-finals in their divisions.
This weekend will be more interesting than usual when you consider that usually at least one of the finals is generally considered one sided with Canterbury usually doing the business. Therefore, don’t be surprised if both games are close this year as the teams in both games are hard to separate. This makes it more likely that both games will be tighter than the finals usually are. Given that the average winning margin during the regular season was 15-16 points, it was refreshing to see three tight semi-finals and in some ways satisfying to see Canterbury lose by 20 points, if only to add a lack of predictability to the competition. Continue reading
The ITM Cup is a great competition, but in 2015 it will clash with the Rugby World Cup 2015 in September in England. Is there space in a congested rugby calendar for fans to follow both rugby competitions?
The Rugby World Cup tends to dominate the media coverage and there is plenty of hype surrounding such a massive global event, I wonder if it is worth the ITM Cup taking a break. Surely fans will be too busy following the progress of the All Blacks to have enough time to follow their ITM Cup team, right? The other problem is that while All Blacks usually don’t play in the ITM Cup any more, there are some quality players from ITM Cup teams who will be at the Rugby World Cup for overseas teams like Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and potentially even Japan instead of playing in the ITM Cup. This will weaken an already diluted competition!
While the other side of the coin suggests that we should continue to have ITM Cups in the same year as Rugby World Cups. Only a handful of All Blacks ever play in the ITM Cup and that is mainly if they are returning from injury or are squad members needing to stretch their legs. Continue reading