Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Martín Scelzo - world class frontrower

Considered by a panel of experts as the best tighthead prop in the world at Rugby World Cup 2007, Martín Scelzo is set to continue his professional career after Rugby World Cup 2011 at the South-Western France club of Agen after having spent the previous seven seasons for fellow Top 14 side Clermont and previously for former Top 14 side Narbonne. In doing so he will link up with Argentine international backrower Alejandro Campos and former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic. Scelzo was a French champion with Clermont having won the 2010 Top 14 Orange Final in his fourth consecutive attempt. Before moving to France to play Top 14 rugby, Scelzo played in England for the Northampton Saints and was a European Champion having been a part of the Heineken Cup winning side of 2000 who defeated Munster in the Final. Scelzo´s move to Agen is a two year deal which should see the 35 year year old retire still a professional player in France.

Scelzo is a veteran of three Rugby World Cup´s having made played in Waels 1999, Australia 2003 and France 2007 and has been playing for his countrry for almost fifteen years. He made his international debut for Argentina in September 1996 in Nepean vs the United States and as of May 2011 he has played a total of 53 test matches for Los Pumas. Over the years, Scelzo has been on sixteen intercontinental tours with Los Pumas. He came off the bench for Argentina in the historical victory vs Ireland at Rugby World Cup 1999 and also featured in matches vs Samoa and France at the tournament. Scelzo played Argentina´s three June tests of 2000 vs Ireland and Australia but would not play again for three years until being recalled in June 2003 to face Franca twice and then Fiji, Uruguay and Canada in lead-up matches to the World Cup. Scelzo´s performances saw him selected for Australia 2003 and he played three matches, vs Namibia, Romania and Ireland. In the lead up game vs Fiji, Scelzo achieved the rare feat of a prop by scoring two tries in the match.

Scelzo missed Argentina´s 2004 matches through injury complications but played vs South Africa, Scotland and Italy in 2005 and vs Wales, New Zealand, Chile, Uruguay, England, Italy and France in 2006. His performances were clearly improving and his presence in the scrum put him amongst the best in the game. Scelzo was unable to play in Argentina´s June 2007 fixtures due to club commitments with Clermont but returned to face Wales in a warm-up match and he then went on to start World Cup matches vs France, Namibia, Ireland, Scotland and South Africa. His work in the scrum had caught the attention of the global rugby media and it was clear theat he South Africa´s scrum was having problems with Scelzo. Unfortunately, he left the field with an injury in the second half which meant his World Cup was over and would not feature in the Bronze Final win vs France. After missing Los Pumas´ matches in 2008 due to further injury comcerns, Scelzo returned for the November tour of Europe to face England, Wales and Scotland and started in all of Argentina´s 2010 matches vs Scotland, France, Italy and Ireland. While his international career may be coming to a close there is no question of his continued contribution to Argentine and global rugby as one of the greatest tighthead props. His record of 9 tries is highly impressive for a prop. Scelzo is set to play in his fourth World Cup and looms as a tought prospect for all opponents.

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