World Cup starts down Mexico way

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 00:00
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The road to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England will start not in one of the sport's heartlands but in the unlikely setting of Mexico City on Saturday.

The road to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England will start not in one of the sport's heartlands but in the unlikely setting of Mexico City on Saturday.

There Mexico, best known in sporting terms for football, will face Jamaica, the Caribbean island that has produced a succession of gifted West Indies cricketers, in the first of 184 matches that will yield just eight qualifiers to play alongside rugby's 'big boys' in three years' time.

Saturday's match may be far removed from the sight of New Zealand beating France in last year's World Cup Final on home soil in Auckland, but the games do have some things in common - they will both be refereed by South Africa's Craig Joubert and the Webb Ellis Trophy will be in attendance as well.

And, unlike last year's Final, both Mexico and Jamaica will have their match shirts presented to them on Friday by a World Cup winner in Lawrence Dallaglio, a member of England's victorious 2003 team.

But while playing at Dallaglio's old stamping ground of Twickenham in 2015 may be a goal beyond both this weekend's teams, for Mexico, who only became a full member of the IRB in 2006, the qualification campaign is part of a wider plan for developing the game in the Central American nation.

"This year the plan is to try and to get to the final of NACRA (North America Caribbean Rugby Association)," explained Simon Pierre, Mexico's New Zealand-born coach, who also plays at No. 8, in an IRB statement.

"Of course we would love to win (that) competition but it's a process that always takes time," added Pierre, who arrived in Mexico in 2008 aiming to stay for just six months before moving to Europe but who is now, after stints coaching the Under-19s and Sevens national sides, in charge of the senior team.

"We're now into the second year of the process. It's just a case of getting the skill levels up," he explained.

Tom Jones, the IRB's regional general manager for North America and the Caribbean believes that in years to come Mexico, like Argentina, could become a significant rugby force.

"It is going to be one of the bigger unions because of what they're doing and the potential size of it," he said.

"Mexico are favourites for this first game, but I think it will be close. Mexico have only started to grow the way the IRB wants it to - we call it a major market investment - very recently.

"Five years ago, there were only half a dozen clubs playing in Mexico City. Now, they have 100 clubs around the country. But it still takes a long time to build a national team, and there are a lot of challenges to it that USA and Canada have been dealing with for 100 years.

"Mexico will emerge as the strongest union in the region eventually, but nothing happens all that quickly," he said.


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Fri, 23 March 2018
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2