USA and Canada eye opening wins
June 4, 2010
Takudzwa Ngwenya starts for the USA against Russia © Getty Images
Saturday heralds the start of another Churchill Cup campaign, with England Saxons and France 'A' heading across the pond as they look to succeed their Irish counterparts as champions.
The tournament kicks off with the USA and Canada in action on the opening weekend. At Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, the States have a tasty meeting with Russia in Pool B, the Saxons' group, as they look to get a flying start.
Eagles coach Eddie O'Sullivan has plenty of pace to call on, naming Biarritz's electric Takudzwa Ngwenya on the wing and Saracens' Chris Wyles at fullback. Lock John Van Der Giessen will skipper the side this season and this clash has plenty riding on it, with the teams also set to meet in their opening game at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
First up though is Canada's meeting with Uruguay in Pool A. Coach Kieran Crowley is expecting a full-blooded Test match and has duly selected a rugged pack in order to counter the Uruguayan threat. Centre DTH van der Merwe comes into the side off the back of a strong season with Glasgow Warriors while Bedford's James Pritchard starts at fullback and brings an excellent kicking game to the party.
Los Teros arrive at the competition having picked up recent wins over Brazil, Paraguay and Chile in the South American Championship, where their tournament was ended in the semi-finals by the Argentina Jaguars.
"We've done a hell of a lot of work," Crowley said. "This will be our second week together. Uruguay have just come off a set of three to four games in the South American Championship. They have got games under their belt and they would have had their systems tested.
"We've put a lot of new stuff in and hasn't yet been tested so that is going to be the interesting part for us. We've done the work and we are as good as we can be at this stage. How it goes we will have to wait and see."
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies