With the Rugby World Cup just months away, fans of all of rugby’s major nations are excitedly reviewing their team’s chances. But this can also be a time to ponder international sides who only enter the spotlight when it comes to rugby’s global showpiece, and that’s exactly what this IRB film does.
The premise of the documentary is awesome. A one-off team is created out of internationals from 5 countries: USA, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. All of these players are seeking life-changing professional contracts in Major League Rugby (America’s professional rugby league). They face one of America’s top sides, the Glendale Raptors, to show off their credentials to watching rugby franchise CEOs.
The head coach of the scratch side is Scott Wisemantel, who has a distinguished coaching CV that includes stints with the Waratahs, Japan, and England. He faces the challenge of molding amateur/semi-pro players (granted, internationals) into a formidable side. He faces the challenge of coaching a pool of players who speak three different languages, and have spent their rugby careers pummeling each other in internationals. He faces the challenge of beating one of the top professional rugby teams in America, and getting players professional contracts.
The documentary provides great insight into one of rugby’s unusual predicaments, and shows the challenges of coaching a new squad of players in a very short time period. It’s also fascinating to anyone wanting to learn about rugby’s global expansion. It covers this relatively new professional rugby structure in America, and how this could grow the game in the nation. It’s also fascinating to hear from the Uruguayan players. Whilst USA and Canada have at least a fair portion of their players on professional contracts in Europe or Super Rugby, this opportunity could be a golden one for Uruguayan players adjusting to the gap of top level rugby. If Uruguay drastically improve for the 2019 World Cup, this initiative could definitely be a factor.
But on top of the reasons rugby fanatics will enjoy the film, it’s also great for the general sports fan. This is an unusual initiative, and it tells the story of the challenges and emotions with great effect. After this weekend, 6 Nations fans face a two week wait until the next round, and this documentary could partially fill the rugby void.
The documentary is called Americas Combine 2018 and can be found on the World Rugby YouTube channel.
Written by Connor Dickins