It’s kind of like the rugby version of when Canada used to schedule key home soccer games against Latin American CONCACAF rivals in the coldest venue possible.
Only nobody imagined that being Greater Victoria. Weather promises to be a surprising central theme in Canada’s supposed banana belt when Argentina and Canada open the Americas Championship rugby tournament today at 5 p.m. at Westhills Stadium in Langford (shown on tape-delay tonight at 8 on TSN1).
Canadian captain Gordon McRorie said he hopes it’s a “shock to the system” of the Argentina players, who left summer temperatures in the 30 degrees earlier this week.
But vowed Argentina captain Lautaro Bavaro: “Weather will not influence our play.”
UVic Vikes players Conor Keys and Liam Chisholm will start today for Canada along with Clay Panga of Westshore RFC. French league pro Taylor Paris from Agen is a key Canadian starter. Coming off the bench for Canada will be Phil Mack and Cole Keith of James Bay Athletic Association and Guiseppe Du Toit of UVic and Clermont pro George Barton of Duncan.
Canada continues the Americas Championship with a game next Saturday at Westhills Stadium against Chile and another home fixture against the U.S. on Feb. 18 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. That will be followed by away Tests in Uruguay on Feb. 25 and in Brazil on March 4.
All games in the Americas Championship are Test matches except those featuring world No. 9 Argentina, which is fielding its national development side.
Between The Uprights: The Langford-based Canadian women’s team advanced to the final of the Sydney Sevens after shocking host and 2016 Rio Olympic-champion Australia 12-7 in the semifinals Friday night. Canada had beaten Russia 26-5 in the quarter-finals after going 2-1 in pool play by defeating France 26-5 and Papua New Guinea 39-5 before bowing 31-10 to New Zealand. The Rio Olympic bronze-medallist Canadian squad was playing the U.S. in the final late Friday.