Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Famous Faces Abroad - Argentine players at Biarritz

Located on the Spanish border on France´s atlantic coast lies the tourist town of Biarritz with a population of close to 30,000 but one of the best rugby teams in Europe. Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque were runners up in the 2010-2011 Heineken Cup and also were in 2005-2006. In addition, the club is a five time French Champion - most recently in 2005-2006. It is home to a number of elite French players such as Imanol Harinordoquy, Jérôme Thion and Damien Traille and a number of other international players from England, Samoa, Tonga and the USA. It will also be home to two Pumas international players who are both highly likely to make the Pumas squad for New Zealand 2011.

Pumas second-rower, Manuel Carizza arrived at Biarritz in 2005 from Argentine club, Jockey Club de Rosario where he had played since 1989 when he was a child. Carizza was not selected for Rugby World Cup 2007 as coach Marcello Loffreda selected a very experienced forward pack, with Edinburgh´s new recruit, Esteban Lozada, being prefered as the fourth second-rower in the squad. However, since then Carizza is a much improved player and today is Argentina´s first choice number 4 in combination with Toulouse´s Patricio Albacete in the second row. Carizza made his test debut for a depleted Pumas side in 2004 vs South Africa in Buenos Aires. In that match, Argentina were without countless internationally based players due to the match taking place in December rather than November. He played five tests for Argentina in 2005 but few between then and 2008. In 2009 he was a standout player for Los Pumas vs Scotland in which he claimed the 4 shirt as his own after Lozada and Bristol´s Mariano Sambucetti had disappointing performances vs England and Wales. In total, Carizza has represented Argentina in 18 tests and is certain to play many more tests for his country.

Versatlie Pumas back, Marcelo Bosch will be playing his fifth season for Biarritz after having arrived one season after Carizza. Bosch is a flyhalf but has played at 12 and 15 for Biarritz when called upon to do so. Last season he returned from a long injury lay off to slot in at fullback for the club and was in outstanding form. Unfortunately, he suffered another injury in october 2009 which ended his season and meant he would miss all of Argentina´s tests yet again. Bosch debuted for Argentina vs Italy in 2007 at flyhalf as a 23 year old and performed very well. He was left out of Rugby World Cup 2007 because Juan Martín Hernández was moved to flyhalf from fullback and veteran Federico Todeschini was prefered as his replacement. Bosch was selected at inside centre to play against Italy in 2008 but because of injury problems has not been avaliable to play for Los Pumas ever since. He is a highly talnted player who, if fully fit, should be included in the squad for New Zealand 2011.

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