Friday, August 20, 2010

Famous Faces Abroad - Argentine players in the Pro D2

The Top 14 is underway and next weekend France´s second division of rugby, the Pro d2 will also have started. Like the Top 14, the competition will feature players from Argentina. Two of them will be worth paying special attention to as they are both probably going to be selected for Rugby World Cup 2011 as wingers for Argentina whist a third back is a possibility for selection.

Pumas winger Lucas Borges will be playing his second season for Albi after the team was relegated from the Top 14 for finishing in last place in the 2009-2010 season. Borges is a veteran of European club rugby having previously played for Stade Français Paris from 2005-2007, Benetton Trévise (Italy) from 2007-2008 and US Dax (France) from 2008-2009. This season will be his first of second division rugby.

Borges made his debut for Argentina vs Paraguay in 2003 and has played a total of 30 tests and scored 13 tries for Los Pumas thus far. He played in 5 matches at France 2007, scoring 3 tries. Since Rugby World Cup 2007 he has suffered injury setbacks which have forced him out of a number of test matches including all of Argentina´s tests in November 2008 and June 2009. This allowed other players the opportunity of wearing the Pumas 14 shirt and now it is more competitive than at any other time since his debut in 2003. Borges was dropped for the second test vs Scotland in June and was not selected for the test vs France. He needs a solid season for the club to book his ticket to New Zealand 2011.

Fellow Pumas winger, Rafaël Carballo will be playing his second season for Union Bordeaux Bègles. he previously played for Toulon from 2004-2006 and for Castres Olympique in the Top 14 from 2006-2009. He left Castres following a long injury in 2009 in which he had almost a year off from rugby. He signed for Union Bordeaux Bègles in January 2010 and started playing for the club immediately.

Carballo is a highly talented winger who can also play centre. He made his debut for Argentina vs Canada in 2005 and has played 9 tests for Los Pumas. He should have played a lot more but missed out because of injury. he made the 14 shirt his own following a fantastic try vs Italy in 2008 in Torino in which he linked superbly with Juan Martín Hernández. Sadly, for him he would miss all of Argentina´s tests in 2009 but now he is back and playing well. He scored a try vs France in the record breaking victory in Buenos Aires in June. The Pumas 14 shirt is now his to lose. Argentina also have talented wingers based in England such as Horacio Agulla, Lucas Gonzalez Amorisino and Gonzalo Camacho so Carballo needs to keep up the good form he showed in June or else he could miss out.

28 year old Argentine centre / fullback Juan Ignacio Gauthier has signed to play for Colomiers after playing last season in Italy for Rugby Roma. Gauthier has represented Argentina A and the Argentine Jaguars but has never been selected for the Argentine test team - Los Pumas. He said that his move to Colomiers is to try to break into the Pumas squad. In his opinion the quality of Italy´s premier rugby division is inferior to that of the Pro d2. Gauthier will need to play well for Colomiers if he is to succeed in being selected for New Zealand 2011 but without question he is a very talented player.

There will also be three Argentine props playing in the Pro d2 this season, two of which are capped internationals for Los Pumas. Tucumán's. Ariel Castellina will be playing his fifth seasons for one of the favourites to win the championship, Lyon Olympique. He previously played in the Top 14 for Agen from 2004-2006 and won three test caps for Argentina in 2004. He debuted vs Chile in the 2004 South American Championship and also played against Uruguay and Venezuela.

Sébastien Rondinelli debut a year latter for Argentina and played two tests - vs Canada and Samoa. He will be playing this season for Aix-en-Provence. It will be the tenth season in France for the La Plata native. Uncapped Argentine prop, Jorge Garcia will be playing for Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby for his fourth consecutive season of Pro d2 rugby. Last season he played 15 matches for the club with 13 of them being as a starter.

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