Rugby rolls into Richardson

Europeans dominate the Americas in Churchill Cup; England takes overall title

International rugby was on show at Richardson Stadium
International rugby was on show at Richardson Stadium

On June 11, Richardson Stadium played host to four international rugby teams and thousands of enthusiastic spectators as part of the Barclays Churchill Cup, a six-team international competition featuring the national teams of Canada and the U.S. as well as A sides from England, Scotland, Ireland and Argentina.

In the first match of the day, Scotland A won 27-24 over the Argentina Pumas. Scotland put on strong pressure right from the start and scored the first try of the match courtesy of Andrew Turnbull. Rob Dewey added another try, and a conversion gave Scotland a 12-0 lead. But Argentina pulled back to 12-5 at halftime on a try from fullback Lucas Barrera Oro.

After the halftime break, Argentina scored again to pull within two points. A great individual effort from winger Jim Thompson restored Scotland’s lead, Gordon Ross added a conversion and a penalty and Colin Gregor chipped in another try for the Scots. Argentina scored two late tries and converted both, but Scotland hung on for the victory and secured themselves a place in the final against the England Saxons.

Dewey said the Scots needed to work on their play late in the match.

“That’s twice now,” he said. “We let Canada sneak a wee bit back into it [in their first match] and now we let Argentina back into it, so that’s something we’ll have to address before the final.” In the day’s second match, Ireland A thumped the U.S. national team 46-9.

The going was fairly even early on, though, as the Irish only recorded one open try, a penalty try and a conversion in the first half, while the Americans received two penalties from Mike Hercus to make the score 12-6 at halftime. Hercus added a third penalty shortly after the break to pull the U.S. within three, but Ireland soon ran away with the game.

U.S. head coach Scott Johnson said the lopsided score didn’t reflect his team’s effort against the talented Irish team.

“Sometimes you play games and the scoreboard doesn’t do justice to the game,” he said. “I think that’s probably a case in point, but as a coach, I’m quite happy.”

The England Saxons won their second consecutive Churchill Cup title Sunday, June 21, after they swamped Scotland A 36-19 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.

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