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Argentina coach says his squad not the 'favourite' in Saturday's ARC final
Team Canada prepares for what could be one of Canada’s greatest matches in history on Saturday, the final of the IRB 2012 Americas Rugby Championship against Argentina.
“The goal from the start was to win the ARC,” said Canadian centre Patrick Parfrey, representing Canada at the final ARC match day press conference on Thursday.
Canada is looking to be the first team other than Argentina to win the ARC tournament. Argentina has won it twice, lifting the trophy in the inaugural year of 2009 and again in 2010 (ARC was not played in 2011 due to the Rugby World Cup).
“We wanted to make Saturday’s match (with Argentina) is the ARC final by beating U.S.A and Uruguay," Parfrey said. "We did that and it will be a disappointment if we lose.”
Canada defeated Uruguay 28-10 on Friday and U.S.A. 23-3, while Argentina defeated U.S.A. 39-3 and Uruguay 21-10.
Despite their world No. 8 ranking, Argentine coach Daniel Hourcade tried to turn the tables when asked how his squad would approach Saturday's game as the favourite.
“We are not the favourite. Canada is a good team. For us it’s a very important match.”
“We must play our best rugby to win (against Canada),” said Argentina captain Tomas Cubelli. “This is a great opportunity to see what our young players can do in a tough tournament.”
Cam Dolan, U.S.A. captain, expressed his disappointment in his team’s effort thus far. In 160 minutes the Americans have yet to score a try. Both the U.S.A. and Uruguay will be fired up to leave Langford on a high note as they play in the 5:30 p.m. match on Saturday.
Three thousand fans are expected to jam Westhills Stadium by the time the Argies and Canucks hit the pitch for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. A crowd of 2,273 took in Canada’s Tuesday match, up from 1,745 on Friday.
Canadian coach Kieran Crowley is hoping for a lot less mistakes, should Canada, ranked 13 in the world, wish to upset the top tier rugby nation that is Argentina.
“We left our skills behind us last game,” he said. “When the pressure is on we must be better at recycling the ball.”
Crowley will once again make various changes to the young Canadian roster, which is playing three international tests in eight days.
Scrum half Sean White will make his ARC debut, finally healed from a broken thumb suffered during training in the tournament lead up.
“White will start provided he is moving the ball well, which he has been in training the past couple of days,” Crowley said.
Local club the James Bay Athletic Association will be on full display in the half field as their man White will be feeding ruck balls out to fly half Connor Braid, also of JBAA, who returns to the No. 10 spot after a stint at fullback against U.S.A. on Tuesday.
Scrum half Kyle Armstrong, from local squad Castaway Wanderers, will move to the bench, having performed admirably in the first two wins.
Parfrey Jr., meanwhile, is day-to-day with an minor injury but should be available for Saturday.
Parfrey and his brother Owen (forward) are both on this year’s ARC team and are both sons of former Canadian coach, Dr. Pat Parfrey, who led Canada at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
Pat Sr. currently coaches the Atlantic Rock provincial side and has groomed dozens of Canadian internationals since the 1980s.
Two years ago another of the Parfrey boys, Kevin, also played for Canada in the ARC, though he suffered an injury this year playing for the Atlantic Rock in the Canadian Rugby Championship.
All three suited up for the Rock this year while eldest brother Brendan has retired from national play.