August is a massive month for North America’s top two teams as USA and Canada go head to head over two legs for a place at Rugby World Cup 2015.
The first leg takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 17 with the return fixture happening in Toronto’s BMO Stadium a week later. The stakes could not be higher with a place at the world’s most prestigious Rugby tournament up for grabs.
The winner will go forward to RWC 2015 as the Americas One qualifier and will take up a position in Pool D alongside France, Ireland, Italy and the Europe Two qualifier, which has not yet been decided. For the loser it will mean a tough proposition of playing off against the top qualifying side in South America.
And of course there are the bragging rights. USA and Canada maintain one of the most enduring and compelling rivalries in the sport and the fans of whichever team is on top at any particular time never seem shy to remind their continental cousins across the border of that fact. Canada have had the better run of results in recent times with their latest victory over the Eagles coming in June during the Pacific Nations Cup.
Meanwhile, off the field it’s busy too with the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) annual general meeting taking place in Charleston from August 16-17 and there will be an important trainers’ course in Toronto from August 20-23.
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Singapore, Chinese Taipei, China and Malaysia are the focus points for Rugby activity in Asia in August. The month starts with four days of IRB medical educator training in Singapore, while on the competitions front, the Chinese Taipei Union hosts ARFU’s Under 19 Divisions One and Two in Kaohsiung between August 11-17.
Not only will Division One provide the Asia qualifier for the 2014 IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, to be held in Hong Kong, but the strength in depth of some of the seven Unions in Kaohsiung will be tested to the limit as the tournament coincides with the Asian Youth Games (AYG) Sevens event in Nanjing, China, from August 17-19. The IRB’s Get Into Rugby programme will be introduced to the Nanjing Rugby community in a week of grass-roots activity around the AYG.
Singapore then hosts a new Asian triangular men’s Fifteens tournament from August 18-24, featuring a Hong Kong A team and Chinese Taipei, together with more IRB medical and S&C courses. The month culminates in Kuala Lumpur with the first ranking tournament of the 2014 HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series at the Malaysia Sevens. This year’s series features, for the first time, 12 core teams who will play in all four ranking tournaments, as they build towards a medal challenge at the 2014 Asian Games in Korea.
The impressive new Asian Rugby Football Union website is a great source for all things going on with the sport in that region. It can be found at www.arfu.com
Argentina’s second year in The Rugby Championship gets underway on August 17 as they face South Africa in Johannesburg and then they host the Springboks in Mendoza a week later. The Pumas will be hoping to build on their encouraging debut season at that level which saw them draw at home to South Africa and put in very competitive performances against New Zealand in Wellington and Australia in Gold Coast and Rosario.
With the World Games taking place in Cali, Colombia, Rugby Sevens is very much part of the programme with South Africa, France, Argentina, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Hong Kong and Colombia participating. Speaking of multi-sport tournaments, Buenos Aires was recently confirmed as the host of the Olympic Youth Games 2018, another boost to a region that will, of course, host the Olympic Games in 2016.
Meanwhile, the biggest training and education project of the year in CONSUR will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from August 6-10. Featuring the IRB’s Mark Harrington and Jock Peggie, included in this “super week” of activities are courses for strength and conditioning coaches, educators and medics as well as continued professional development for all the region’s trainers.
Later in the month, Asuncion will be the venue for the CONSUR Senior B tournament with home team Paraguay hosting Colombia, Peru and Venezuela from August 25-31.
For more information on South American Rugby go to www.consur.org
FIRA-AER has elected a new president in the form of Octovian Morariu. This is an exciting appointment for Rugby in Europe as Morariu brings a wealth of experience to the role. An engineer by profession, the Romanian, who turns 52 this month, is president and chief executive of an environmental protection and waste management company in Bucharest. A former player at international level and coach, he now finds time to sit as president of the Romanian National Olympic and Sports Committee. And despite the diverse nature of the sport in Europe, he should be able to make himself well understood around the committee rooms and Rugby grounds of the continent as he speaks English, French, German and Italian as well as his native Romanian.
And on the field, the Under 20 European Championship will take place in Prague this month from August 24 to September 1 with Czech Republic, Netherlands, Ukraine, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Latvia, Hungary and Moldova all competing.
For all the latest information go to www.fira-aer-rugby.com
August is traditionally a big month for training and education in the region. From August 26-30, the Tonga Rugby Union will host a Training and Education Support (TES) programme “super week” comprising a level three coaching course, a medical educator course and a level two and level three medical course. There will also be a coaching level two course in Tonga and a level two match official taking place there from August 19-22.
The Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), with the assistance of the Pacific in Union programme (a joint initiative of the Australia Rugby Union, IRB, Australian Government and SRU) will launch the ‘Fun Manu Programme’, a junior participation strategy for five-12-year-olds in Samoa. The strategy is designed to provide a coordinated, skills-based programme for boys and girls and to build links between junior and senior Rugby clubs in Samoa. The programme will be run on Saturday mornings throughout August from 08:00-10:30 at the SRU high-performance complex.
In addition, during August there will be Pacific in Union schools festivals held in Solomon Islands (Munda/Noro), PNG (Port Moresby) and Samoa (Apia) as well as a Get into Rugby schools festival in Tonga (Nuku’alofa).
For more information go to www.oceaniarugby.com
Under 19 Rugby is to the fore in Africa during August with both the Group A and Group B tournaments taking place at different ends of the continent from August 26-31. The stronger division takes place in Nelspruit, South Africa, with Namibia taking on Kenya and Zimbabwe playing Madagascar for a place in the final. Meanwhile, up in Tunis, Tunisia, Group B will see the home team face Uganda to see who will play the winner of Morocco v Zambia.
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