The Blues A XV will open an exciting weekend of rugby this coming Friday when they take on the visiting Argentinian Pampas XV at Pakuranga Rugby Football Club.
The game is free for all at Pakuranga RFC and kick-off is at 7pm, Friday March 6.
The Pampas team was created in 2010 to compete in the South African Vodacom Cup, which they won in 2011. According to Argentinian Rugby Union officer Rafael LarÌa, the Pampas team was developed to provide more competition to UAR High Performance players.
Blues High Performance Manager Tony Hanks called the game a “rare opportunity for players from the Blues Development Squad to face an international calibre team.”
The Pampas team is coached by Martìn Gaitan and Raul Perez, assistants to Argentinian Pumas’ head coach Daniel Hourcade. High-profile names in the Pampas touring squad include Manuel Montero and Tomas Cubelli, who helped the Pumas defeat the French last November at Stade de France.
“It will provide some of our Blues squad some valuable game time against a strong opponent at this stage of the season,” Hanks said.
Auckland is the second stop in a three-stage tour for the Pampas. They played the Waratahs’ Development squad in Sydney last Friday, coming away with a 24-all draw. They will then go on to Fiji to compete in the Pacific Challenge.
Blues A coach, Steve Jackson, said the Pampas would most likely be using this tour as a “stepping stone” and an unofficial selection process for the Argentinian entrance into Super Rugby competition. Argentina and Japan will each enter a team into the competition in 2016.
Jackson also said the game will introduce a distinctly Argentinian style of rugby to the Blues Development Squad.
“They’ll be hard and they’ll be big and we’ll be looking for a really physical game up front,” he said. “It will be a great test for our young players at set piece and the Pampas backline features some very talented players who have played at test level.”
The Blues A team will be announced later in the week, after the Blues v Lions line-up is announced and once all injury reports are filed.
Friday night will mark the beginning of two days of excellent Blues region competition. Saturday afternoon will feature the Westie Pies Blues Secondary Schools Invitational 10s Tournament at QBE Stadium, where 16 high schools gather to compete in the 10 minutes a half/10-a-side competition. Followed by round four of the Super Rugby tournament, when the Blues take on the Lions at QBE.