Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Patricio Albacete

Twenty-nine year old Argentina international secondrower, Patricio Albacete has earned the reputation of being one of the busiest secondrowers in world rugby. His ever-present display has him ranked amongst the best secondrowers on the planet. Albacete has been playing professional rugby at the top level in France for eight years sicne leaving Buenos Aires club, Manuel Belgrano, to join French side Colomiers on his first professional contract in 2003, aged only 21. He spent one year with Colomiers before moving to fellow former Top 14 side Pau, with whom he spent the following two seasons and was a part of the side who finished second in the 2005 European Challenge Cup. In 2006, Albacete signed for powerhouses, Toulouse and remains at the club to this day. Albacete has been a permanent first choice in the secondrow for the South France glamour club and put in key performances in helping Toulouse win both the 2008 French Top 14 and the 2010 Heineken Cup championship titles. Albacete´s status as a genuine world class secondrower, has seen his contract with Toulouse extended until 2014.

Albacete was discovered by former Argentina international coach, Marcelo Loffreda. Loffreda selected Albacete for international duty in 2003 and less than six months after making his debut, Albacete was starting in the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2003 as Argentina took on hosts, Australia. Albacete had made his debut vs Paraguay earlier in 2003 after he had impressed in captaining Buenos Aires in 2002 at the mere age of 20. He had actually made his international debut, aged 19 vs Uruguay in 2001 but it was not recognized as an official international test-match. After debutin vs Paraguay, Albacete also faced Uruguay, France, South Africa and Canada in pre-Rugby World Cup 2003 matches. Despite still being an amateur player based in Buenos Aires, his performances earned him a starting place for the World Cup and he started vs Australia and Romania but would miss the key match vs Ireland through injury.

His profile skyrocketed following his move to France and ever since he has been a permanent feature in Los Pumas. He has featured in Argentina´s key success´ during this period such as defeating France in Marseilles in 2004, defeating England in London in 2006 and being a stand-out player at Rugby World Cup 2007 in which he played every minute of every match. His importance to Los Pumas continues with Albacete being a prominant player in the teams important results since France 2007 such as the wins vs Italy in 2008, England and Scotland in 2009 and France in 2010. Born December 9th 1981, Albacete is one of Argentina´s key players heading into his third Rugby World Cup campaign. In total, he has played fourty tests for Argentina, scoring one try vs Georgia in Rugby World Cup 2003.

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