No team has ever won five matches in a row in a single Americas Rugby Championship, but USA have the opportunity to create history by doing that if they beat Uruguay in Montevideo in the final round of the 2018 edition on Saturday.
In doing so, the defending champions would also take their unbeaten record in the tournament to 10 matches, having drawn the title decider with Argentina XV last year.
It has been a long journey for the Eagles, who started their campaign with three consecutive home matches, winning all of them – beating Argentina XV, Canada and Chile – and then overcoming the implications of their historic past to beat Brazil in Sao Jose dos Campos last weekend.
Their journey to Montevideo has not been an easy one, as they have had to focus on keeping a consistent rhythm to their game with a collection of new players in the mix. Nevertheless, the Eagles has found a way to overcome these challenges and put themselves in the running for a second successive title this weekend.
“Though our performance in this tournament has not been seamless, I am proud that our boys have the opportunity to contend for the ARC title once again," insisted coach Gary Gold.
In order to make history, the Eagles will need to bring consistency to their play throughout the entire match as Uruguay will pose a tough and physical challenge, which they’ve brought to their 14-test unbeaten record leading into this game. The visitors must also be prepared to adapt to anything they might face at the Estadio Charrúa.
Gas to burn
“After what’s been a long tour, we have plenty of gas to burn,” insisted captain Nate Augspurger. “Saturday can’t come fast enough.”
Uruguay climbed above USA into 17th in the World Rugby Rankings on the back of their record win over Chile last weekend and go into the match in the knowledge that they could snatch the title from under the Eagles' noses if results go their way.
The two previous occasions the teams have met in the Americas Rugby Championship both ended with a victory margin of less than seven points. In the inaugural competition in 2016, Uruguay overcame a second-half deficit to beat the Eagles 29-25 while the following year ended with a 29-23 victory for USA.
It goes without saying that Uruguay, USA and Argentina XV – who are also still in the running for the title – will be playing for everything on Saturday. Defeating Uruguay would not only mean the Eagles make history by being the first team to win every match in one campaign, but also become the first to successfully defend the title.
Overall, one thing is undeniably certain, Saturday in South America will be a day to remember.
The Eagles have not lost in the Americas Rugby Championship since 5 March, 2016 when Uruguay beat them at the same Estadio Charrúa where they will play on Saturday. They currently lead the standings by three points from Argentina XV with Uruguay a further two points adrift, a position gives them certain luxuries going into the final round.
A win or a draw will ensure a successful title defence, while they could even lose and claim two bonus points to take home the trophy again. If they lose with only one bonus point, then it will be a long wait until the final whistle in Brazil where Argentina XV will need to win with a bonus point if they are to claim the title themselves.
The climax of Americas Rugby Championship 2018 will be streamed LIVE on the World Rugby website at www.worldrugby.org/arc2018. Some geo-blocking restrictions will apply with more details available here.
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Americas Rugby Championship 2018 - Round 5
CHILE v CANADA: 17-33
URUGUAY v USA: 19-61
BRAZIL v ARGENTINA XV: 8-28