Friday, June 25, 2010

Famous Faces Abroad - Argentine Players in England

The upcoming European rugby season (2010-2011) will feature elite rugby players from Argentina and the Americas region as a whole. In England, there will be nine Argentine players playing at the top level in the Aviva Premiership which is the new name for what was previously known as the Guinness Premiership. Of the championships 12 clubs, 5 will have players from Argentina. More players may sign before the season begins or during the season itself.

Guinness Premiership champions, Leicester Tigers, have three Pumas all of whom are current Pumas and are all highly likely to be in the team for Rugby World Cup 2011. Of the three players the most well known is loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza who was voted prop of the year for the 2008-2009 Guinness Premiership. The 2010-2011 season will be his fifth season at the club. With Leicester, he has won both the Guinness Premiership and the Heineken Cup. Ayerza debuted for Argentina in 2004 and has played 29 tests.

Pumas wing, Lucas Gonzalez Amorisino, a graduate of Argentina Sevens Rugby has extended his contract with Leicester for the 2010-2011 season. The 24 year old is known in Argentina as Speedy Gonzalez not simply by chance. He debuted for Argentina vs England in 2009 and will be looking to have a strong season to secure his place in the Pumas squad for Rugby World Cup 2011. He scored the games only try in Leicester´s history making win vs South Africa in November 2009.

For the new season Amorisino and Ayerza will be joined by Pumas fullback / wing Horacio Agulla who has signed a two year contract to join Leicester from French club, Brive. In a move which could benefit him greatly he will have the opportunity of playing with Amorisino which will benefit both Agulla and los Pumas. Agulla captained Argentina vs Chile and Uruguay in May 2010.

London´s Halequins will have three Argentine players, two of whom are fully capped internationals. Wing, Gonzalo Camacho will be playing his second season for the club as will second rower Tomas Vallejos Cinalli who joined the club midway through last season. Despite being uncapped, Vallejos Cinalli represented Argentina in the U17, U18, U20 and U23 age groups. The pair will be joined by flyhalf / inside centre, Benjamin Urdapilleta who will join from Buenos Aires club CUBA and Los Pampas XV who competed in the 2010 Vodacom Cup in South Africa. Urdapilleta has been playing for Los Jaguars mainly because other players have been prefered for Los Pumas. His move to Harelquins will help him greatly in his efforts to make the World Cup squad. Fellow Harlequin, Gonzalo Camacho, will be in competition with Agulla and Amorisino for a place at Rugby World Cup 2011. All three could go, the form of them in the Guinness Premiership will decide who goes and who does not. It is therefore a great chance for English fans to watch them fight for spots in their national team.

Based in Surrey, London Irish is the club of first choice Pumas scrum-half, Alfredo Lalanne who in 2010-2011 will be playing his third season for the club. Despite being the first choice for los Pumas, Lalanne has stiff competition from Agustin Figuerola and Nicolas Vergallo and needs a strong season to maintain the 9 shirt.

Northern English club, Leeds Carnegie will have two Argentine props in the squad for the new season. Juan Francisco Gomez has extended his stay at the club and will be joined by Miguel Alonso who is joining from Italian club Rugby Viadana. Gomez has played four times for Argentina since making his debut vs Italy in 2006 and needs a very strong season to get back into the Pumas team. During this period, he has been playing for Argentina A and Los Jaguars.

With an impressive list of rugby players playing in England, the idea of bringing Rugby World Cup 2023 to Argentina should be supported by English rugby fans who get to see these players play every week.


  1. Ha, remember 5 years ago the Pumas showed up from all corners of the world and drew the BIL in a warm up match. Bear in mind the BIL came back for a draw in teh last minute.
    I am curious to know what the status of domestic rugby is in Argentina, like the popularity and infrastructure etc etc
    I don't know what we can do to push their case forward tho. The 12 unions wield far too much power and it's not like us outside can do much about it.

  2. A Tri Nations team is hosting in 2011, a European in 2015 and an Asian in 2019. So none should host in 2023. Argentina is perfect.

  3. Vinnie,

    The match vs the Lions was certainly an eye openner and had a huge influence on public opinion. People seemed to not pay attention to the win vs France in Marseilles in 2004. British and Irish fans could no longer talk down the abilities of Los Pumas.

    Argentina certainly has both the popularity and the infrastructure to host a Rugby World Cup. There are over 90,000 registered players and a growing fanbase. Cities with appropriate stadiums are:

    - Buenos Aires
    - La Plata
    - Córdoba
    - Rósario
    - Mar del Plata
    - Rosario
    - Mendoza
    - Santa Fé
    - Tucumán
    - Salta
    - San Juan
    - Jujuy
    - Bahia Blanca
    - Paraná