Final ARC matchup to determine competition winner

COMODORO RIVADAVIA, Argentina – Americas Rugby Championship 2017 will conclude Saturday, March 4, when the USA Men’s Eagles and Argentina XV square off at Estadio Municipal for the top spot in the competition.

U.S. Head Coach John Mitchell’s squad has scored a combined 188 points in four matches through the competition, bettered only by Argentina XV (201), with which the Eagles are tied in the ARC standings with 19 points. Argentina XV won the inaugural ARC last year with the Eagles in second. Nate Augspurger will captain the squad in a 3:10 p.m. ET kickoff, with the live broadcast available to subscribers of The Rugby Channel.

“The squad has presented itself an opportunity to have another crack at winning the Americas Rugby Championship,” Mitchell said. “As long as we continue with the same mindset and approach we will stress our opponent and future opponents.”

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Augspurger wore the ‘C’ last weekend in the Eagles’ eight-try defeat of Chile in Santiago. U.S. caps leader Todd Clever was one of the try-scorers in the match, but was shortly replaced following his try due to an injury. John Quill, who played in the first three matches of the competition in North America, has been called in to the loose forwards as Clever is unavailable for the weekend’s match. Tony Lamborn and Cam Dolan retain their places in the back row.

The second-row combination of Matt Jensen and Siaosi Mahoni also returns after its first paired start against Chile, while James Hilterbrand will hook between Chris Baumann and Anthony Purpura. The props have started together in wins against Uruguay and Canada last month, with Hilterbrand serving the team from the starting XV, the bench, and as captain during the ARC.

Will Magie returns to the No. 10 jumper behind scrum half Shaun Davies, with All-American Ben Cima making his first start at the full back position against an Argentina XV team not afraid to play in the air. Augspurger and Mike Te’o will give Cima attacking threats from the wing, while the young center pairing of JP Eloff and Bryce Campbell will start its fourth consecutive match.

“Cima has the ability to be an attacking threat as well as kick the channels long or contestable,” Mitchell said. “Ben has really improved on this tour in all areas of his game and, like his teammates, has connected really with his mates off of the field.”

Only three players not in the starting XV last weekend have been included in Saturday’s, and the reserves have continued to play a part in the Eagles’ high-scoring victories. David Tameilau scored a try and quickly set up Jensen for another within minutes of coming onto the field against Chile, and Peter Malcolm dotted down twice in a short second-half stint. Both are available in the reserves Saturday, with the young legs of Hanco Germishuys and Calvin Whiting also anticipating more game time before the ARC comes to an end.

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The Eagles have not had as much player turnover throughout their three away matches as they did in two South American games in 2016, resulting in a more stable selection pool. In addition to the effects of that stability on the field, the squad as a whole has given Mitchell cause for praise in terms of culture and the training environment.

“We are starting to create very healthy competitive player depth, which is going to force my hand to leave some very good players out for Rugby World Cup Qualifiers this summer,” Mitchell said. “We have a mindset around creating the best team mix of 23 with everyone playing a role when required – to start or finish the game.

“The culture and vibe that this group has formed needs to be commended, as they have been a pleasure to mentor and watch while connecting and building the necessary team cohesion.”

Kickoff from Estadio Municipal is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. ET. Live match updates will be provided by USA Rugby’s Twitter account (@USARugby), while The Rugby Channel will have the live broadcast for subscribers.

Men’s Eagles | v. Argentina XV

1. Anthony Purpura

2. James Hilterbrand

3. Chris Baumann

4. Matthew Jensen

5. Siaosi Mahoni

6. John Quill

7. Tony Lamborn

8. Cameron Dolan

9. Shaun Davies

10. Will Magie

11. Nate Augspurger (C)

12. JP Eloff

13. Bryce Campbell

14. Mike Te’o

15. Ben Cima

Men’s Eagles | Reserves

16. Peter Malcolm

17. Ben Tarr

18. Olive Kilifi

19. Hanco Germishuys

20. David Tameilau

21. Calvin Whiting

22. Ryan Matyas

23. Aaron Davis

Argentina XV | v. USA

1. Francisco Ferronato

2. Gaspar Baldunciel

3. Santiago Medrano

4. Pedro Ortega

5. Ignacio Larrague

6. Francisco Gorrissen

7. Lautaro Bavaro (C)

8. Tomás de la Vega

9. Sebastián Cancelliere

10. Domingo Miotti

11. Julián Domínguez

12. Bruno Devoto

13. Santiago Álvarez

14. Germán Schulz

15. Gabriel Ascárate

Argentina XV | Reserves

16. Marcelo Brandi

17. Franco Brarda

18. Eduardo Bello

19. Franco Molina

20. Santiago Montagner

21. Lautaro Bazán Vélez

22. Juan Cruz González

23. Franco Cuaranta

USA Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship

v. Uruguay – W 29-23
v. Brazil – W 51-3

v. Canada – W 51-34

v. Chile – W 57-9
v. Argentina XV – Saturday, March 4
View Americas Rugby Championship broadcast information >>