Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fantastic Felipe Contepomi re-finds fine form for Stade

La gifle pour Perpignan - RUGBY - Top 14
Felipe Contepomi has been on great
form for Stade Français of late
After Felipe Contepomi left Leinster in 2009, he had a poor couple of seasons at Toulon, a move which Contepomi himself admits wasn't the best in hindsight. Indeed most fans saw him as past his sell by date and that he would fade out of the scene after the World Cup this year. But since arriving at Stade Français and reuniting with his former coach Michael Cheika after the World Cup the 34 year old has looked rejuvenated.

In Contepomi's second match away at France's best team Toulouse, Stade gave a good effort just losing by three points and although it was a loss, the close match against the French champions (who Stade lost 29-0 to at the Stade de France in 2010) was a sign that Stade finally might be approaching better times following a miserable few seasons. After the close loss away to Toulouse, Contepomi put in a fine performance that bossed the then league leaders Clermont at the Stade de France as Stade won easily 37-16. Contepomi was then named man of the match (despite taking a few bumps) in Stade's first away win of the season against Worcester in the Amlin Cup. 

And Contepomi's fine run of form continued this Friday with a sublime display as Stade Français beat struggling Perpignan, who are on a 6 match losing streak in the Top 14, at the Stade Aime Giral 35-16 in a crucial match for both sides hopes of qualifying for the Top 14 playoffs and Europe next season. Contepomi played a big part in three of Stade's four tries (see video below), supplying an excellent flat pass for Paul Williams to run onto and score the first try, great awareness for a cross kick to set up the Italian captain, and a chip and chase that then set up his Pumas team mate Martín Rodríguez. Stade have definitely been a reborn side since their Argentine, Italian, Samoan and French players have returned from New Zealand, the Parisians are no doubt benefiting from having a 10 who has some creativity and doesn't kick the leather off the ball at every possible chance (Beauxis).

Contepomi may have lost some pace and his goal kicking has been awry for a while now, but he hasn't lost his rugby brain and the creative spark in his playmaking. An interesting question now is whether Contepomi will have one last season of international rugby left in him in 2012 as the Rugby Championship begins. The Pumas have lots of depth in the 10-12 department, as Juan Martín Hernández is gradually shedding his injury acquired rustiness and has had a run of games a 10 for Racing-Métro and helped them to a comfortable 28-9 home win over Biarritz also on Friday, Santiago Fernández and Martín Rodríguez (who in my opinion should only be considered in his best position at 12). Sentimentally Contepomi leading Argentina into a new era of Pumas rugby would be a great way for him to bow out of international rugby, but until his current run of form I would have thought it unlikely, but on current form I would say he would merit being in the side, at least as an experienced head on the bench.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comment about Lionel Beauxis considering he has been unable to spark attacks for Toulouse and the side drew 9-9 in a tryless match vs Brive.

    Felipe Contepomi has changed a lot at Stade Français and may well be delaying his retirement. If he continues to play like this then he´ll certainly keep his play in Los Pumas for the immediate future. Next weekend´s match will be interesting as it will feature Stade Français vs Racing Metro and thus Contepomi vs Hernández.