The biggest rugby tournament in North America is coming back to Langford for 2013.
The decision to return the senior men’s Americas Rugby Championship to Westhills Stadium, Oct. 11 to 19, is a glowing sign of approval from the International Rugby Board, said Rugby Canada’s general manager Mike Chu.
Last fall, Rugby Canada organized and executed the ARC on six weeks notice. Argentina pulled out as hosts leaving the IRB in a bind, until Rugby Canada stepped forth to host the third running of the event.
“The City of Langford was helpful in making it happen, enough to give IRB the confidence in us to do it again,” Chu said.
Argentina has won the ARC in all three years of its existence. U.S.A. and Uruguay also participated last year. Argentina defeated Canada in the final, in front of a sold out crowd of 3,255 fans.
ARC is the traditional 15-a-side rugby union game. This year’s tournament will follow the same format as 2012, with Canada and three other teams playing three round-robin games over eight days.
The Argentina Jaguars, that country’s national team development squad, will once again be the favourite against non-professional sides from the U.S.A. and Canada. Argentina’s premier national team plays at the same time in The Rugby Championship, against three of the world’s premier rugby union countries, the New Zealand All Blacks, South Africa Springboks and Australia Wallabies, in each of those countries.
Uruguay and Chile face each other soon in a deciding match for the fourth and final berth at the ARC.
“It’s an important part of our development,” said 15s coach Kieran Crowley.
“Those players who make the ARC are pushing for positions on the national team for the November test tour. Which leads to deciding who will represent Canada at the Rugby World Cup.”
Players on Canada’s ARC squad are selected from Rugby Canada’s regional competition, the Canadian Rugby Championship, which runs over the course of the summer. Competing in the CRC are the Pacific Tyees (B.C. Bears), Prairie WolfPack, Ontario Blues and Atlantic Rock.
Blues player Tyler Ardron excelled at the CRC last year and was named captain of Canada at the ARC. The choice turned out to be a good one, as Ardron made an immediate impact when he ran back an intercepted try for Canada’s first try of the tournament against Uruguay.
Ardron’s since been a regular on the back row of the Canadian 15s team, having played on Canada’s 15s team that made the November tour to England. He also plays for the national sevens team.
“Right now our focus is to retain core status (on the IRB Sevens world series),” Ardron said.
Canada’s sevens team is currently 11th in the IRB Sevens World Series points standings. Only the top 12 teams retain core status to play in all nine of the tournaments.
The final two sevens fixtures of the year are Scotland on May 4 and 5 and England May 11 and 12.
Then it’s back to 15s for Ardron, who usually wears No. 8, in the middle of the back row of Canada’s scrum.
Canada will compete in the Pacific Nations Cup for the first time and hosts matches May 25 vs. U.S.A. in Edmonton, June 5 vs. Fiji in Ottawa and June 8 vs. Tonga in Kingston.
The summer schedule continues as Canada plays Ireland in June and then battles the U.S.A. in a two-game qualifier for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in August.
On Saturday, Ardron will make his CDI Premier League debut playing for the James Bay Athletic Association as that team looks to secure a playoff spot in a road game versus the Bayside Sharks of South Surrey.
Visit americasrugbychampionship.com for more information.