USA playing for their future against Pumas

Both teams are chasing third place and automatic qualification for RWC 2023 - but there is more than that at stake for the Eagles in Kumagaya, says fly-half MacGinty.

KUMAGAYA, 8 Oct – A preview of the Pool C match between Argentina and USA, which kicks off at 13:45 on Wednesday at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.

The big picture

The quarter-finals may be out of sight, but Argentina v USA still has plenty riding on it. Both teams are chasing third place in Pool C and automatic qualification for RWC 2023 - and USA believe they are playing for nothing less than the future of the game.

"A single win is massive and it can come in this game," said fly-half AJ MacGinty, pictured above.

"It's huge for us as a team and the stamp we want to put on American rugby's legacy but also the growth of the game in America … A third-place finish is something that's never been done. For us, as a group, that's a massive motivational thing." Wins against Argentina on Wednesday and Tonga on Sunday would put the Eagles in third place.

As Argentina play their last match of Rugby World Cup 2019, they bid farewell to retiring flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who has won 86 caps and featured in the side that finished third in RWC 2007. 

"The last few days have been hard, with too much going on in my head, too many feelings," said Leguizamon.

He makes his first start of the tournament, his fourth World Cup.

"I’m trying to focus on the present, which is tomorrow's game against the United States and hope that as a team, we can leave that field laughing and hugging and a little happier. That is the goal."

Argentina have won all eight of the previous encounters between the two sides. They have not faced each other for 16 years: the last time was in the old stadium of the Buenos Aires Cricket and Rugby Club, in front of 6,000 spectators.

The USA Eagles are seeking their first victory at a Rugby World Cup since their 13-8 win against Russia in 2011. They struggled to make much of an impact in their opening game against England, but were much improved against France, despite the 33-9 score.

Coach Gary Gold said this week, "We came to this World Cup to perform. I think so far, particularly against France, we had a very good performance, but we want to take that to a different level now."

Form guide (most recent matches first)

Argentina: LWLLL

USA: LLWLW

Head-to-head

Played 8 – Argentina 8W, USA 0W

In the spotlight

Young scrum-half Ruben de Haas, who celebrates his 21st birthday on the day of the game, embodies the new era of USA players. He gets his first start of the World Cup against Los Pumas after a good showing off the bench against France.

De Haas plays in the Pro14 with the Cheetahs in South Africa. If he can help his side achieve automatic World Cup qualification for 2023, he will be part of a growing generation of USA players for whom the American rugby landscape could change enormously.

"Argentina have dangerous backs that like to play ball in hand. When we played them (Argentina XV) in the ARC (Americas Rugby Championship), the game was so fast, they almost ran us off our feet. It’ll be a fast game," said De Haas.

Argentina field promising 23-year-old Juan Cruz Mallia at outside-centre. Having featured in two Junior World Championships, as captain for one, he has played for Argentina XV, Jaguares and now is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut.

Stats and trivia

Argentina have won all of their past 12 Rugby World Cup matches against current Tier 2 sides, after losing their first three.

USA have registered 16 points in their first two matches. Only Canada scored fewer points in their first two games.

Quotes

"It is a very important game for us. We need it to be, as we have prepared all this time for the World Cup. We can't let it go wrong on the field. We owe it to Legui (Leguizamon) for his retirement." – Pumas fly-half Nicolas Sanchez on how Argentina will not struggle for motivation.

"They've got quite the backfield. I'm marking quite a dynamic and explosive player in (Bautista) Delguy, who showed his class when he came on against England. So, with Nicolas Sanchez starting at 10, they've got quite the general there in terms of the way they want to play the game." – USA's Marcel Brache, who plays on the wing.

RNS nh/ar/bo