For starters, this will be a tough test for The Rock

John Browne
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Opens season against Argentine side

Pat Parfrey (right), shown with Rock co-coach Simon Blanks, says the rugby team’s first game of the 2011 season, to be played Thursday against Argentina’s Salta Province, will be its biggest match of the year. — Telegram file photo

The local rugby season kicks off with a monster game Thursday at Swilers Complex.

The Canadian champion The Rock faces Salta Province from Argentina in the inaugural Argentina-Canada Challenge in an International Rugby Board (IRB) sanctioned match at 6 p.m.

“It’ll be the biggest game we’ll play this year,”  said Pat Parfrey, who will coach the team along with Simon Blanks.    

In fact, Salta is the toughest team The Rock has ever faced, according to Parfrey.

“They are probably better than the England Counties team which beat us 20-6 last year,” said Parfrey.

“They are favourites to beat us based on Argentina’s (eighth-ranked) status in the world.”

Parfrey hasn’t seen Salta play or practice, but based on Argentina’s national team’s style, expects most of their good work will be done by their forwards.

“They will probably play similar to the national team which is based on strong scrummaging, mauling from the line-outs, mauling in general and good, tight play with the capacity for their backs to break out,”’ said Parfrey.

“We have no chance of competing unless we’re strong in the scrummage and stop their maul.”

Parfrey said The Rock would have “absolutely” prefered to play the Argentina provincial club side a month from now with more games under their belts, but the only other open date was May 21 which conflicts with the May 24th weekend. Salta will play the Toronto Blues May 21.

“It’ll be the biggest game we’ll play this year.” Pat Parfrey

Argentina, meanwhile, is midway through its rugby season.

Salta was a semifinalist in the Argentina provincial championships last season, while The Rock won the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) league title.

The two teams will play for the Amerigo Vespucci Trophy.

The Rock recently split a pair of exhibition games in Victoria B.C., in preparation for Thursday’s big match.

After beating Canada Selects 19-13, The Rock lost to James Bay 48-38, starting 13 players who didn’t start against the Selects.

The Rock’s roster for Thursday’s game against Salta Province:

Prop: Frank Walsh, Phil Alcock, Rod Snow, Chris Burt

Hooker: Peter Densmore, Owen Parfrey

Second row: Brad Lester, Sean O’Leary, Jon Phelan

Back row: Jebb Sinclair, Chauncey O’Toole, Kevin Parfrey, Ken Goodland, Zac Coughlan, Justin Myers

Half back: Sean White, Adam Paul, Dean Blanks

Centre: Tyler Wish, Geoff Warden, Jason Picco

Wing: Robert Wilson, Rob Turk, Shane Stratton

Fullback: Morgan Lovell

Organizations: International Rugby Board, Argentina-Canada Challenge, Toronto Blues

Geographic location: Argentina, Salta Province, Victoria James Bay

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