Saturday, January 14, 2012

Argentina to use a 35 man squad for The Rugby Championship

Santiago Phelan
Plans for 2012 are already well underway with what is to be a groundbreaking year for Argentine rugby appearing to have a solid outline in place by the coaching staff. Los Pumas headcoach, Santiago Phelan told Argentine site rugbytime that he is going to have a squad of 35 players for The Rugby Championship this year. The squad is therefore going to be larger than that used at Rugby World Cup´s which has a limit of 30 players. While Phelan has said how many will be a part of the national squad for the historical tournament it is not yet clear as to who will be selected. Phelan has merely pointed out that the 35 players are to be Argentina´s best and that in addition to having many European based players there will also be various local players, as is normally the case for Pumas squads. 

Phelan selected a squad of 17 forwards and 13 backs for Rugby World Cup 2011. The squad included five props but only two hookers and had Gonzalo Tiesi as the only specialist centre. Phelan said in the interview that the coaching staff are wanting Los Pumas to continue playing a style of rugby that maintains the bases of Argentine rugby: good attainment (and) scrum, but we think we have players to develop a more dynamic game. But it is very dangerous to try to play an entrirely dynamic style of rugby because we are not accustomes to it. We need to go about it bit by bit

With this in mind it is fear to assume that Argentina are going to play a more open brand of rugby. A style the South Americans only really played when they were losing matches at the World Cup. When Argentina were in control of matches or losing by small margins the game plan was far from being running rugby. In the match vs England, for instance, Argentina showed significantly more flair in the later minutes of play following England´s try which gave the Europeans the lead. Perhaps Argentina are going to try to play more this way in 2012. The overwhelming factor preventing Pumas teams from playing an expansive brand of rugby has been the players lack of time together. Pumas players and coaches have traditionally had the short end of the stick in this regard. When Argentina defeated England in 2006 some of the players only arrived in London on Tuesday despite the match being played on Saturday and being the first of three November internationals that year.

This seasons Aviva Premiership and Top 14 Orange have seen Argentine players shine in most positions. Phelan and co can be confident that adopting a more dynamic brand of rugby can not only work but that it is already hapenning to a number of Pumas players abroad. Argentina´s traditional forward strength continues with players performing well in the tightfive. The backrow is, oddly, the area in which Argentina has its fewest number of professionals playing reguarly. However Juan Fernández Lobbe´s injury has enabled Leonardo Senatore to play for Toulon. While Juan Leguizamón is playing a lot for Lyon. Where it is really interesting, however, is in the backline with Pumas playing scoring a higher than normal ratio of tries and, in general, playing to a high standard.
Just exactly who the 35 will be appears to be not such a difficult task considering that of the 30 players from New Zealand 2011 only two will no longer play for Argentina - Mario Ledesma and Martín Scelzo. It is probable that the remaining 28 will almost all be retained and the remaining seven places taken up by newcomers and players returning from injury. The seven spots are likely to be distributed to different positions with Martín Bustos Moyano and Juan Martín Hernández being certainties for wing and flyhalf probably in place of Nicolás Sánchez. Ignacio Mieres also looks to have the better of Sánchez on form as does Joaquín Tuculet in comparison to Agustín Gosio. Juan Orlandi may return in place of Scelzo and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro could be included too. Andres Bordoy appears more like than Eusebio Guiñazú to be used as a hooker and Matias Corteze may well be third choice. Esteban Lozada looms as being included if Phelan opts to have five secondrowers while Alvaro Galindo should return after missing the World Cup through injury. Agustín Figuerola and Alfredo Lalanne are both likely to be included and used behind Nicolás Vergallo.
The options avaliable to Phelan are also cross-positional with a number of players proving to be capable of perfoming well abroad in multiple positions. Marcelo Bosch has been effective at both 13 and 10 for Biarritz, Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga has looked better at 12 than 15 for Stade Français and Juan Imhoff has proven to be outstanding not only on the wing but also at fullback. Felipe Contepomi´s form, should it continue will see him play 10 with Juan Martín Hernández at best playing fullback unless he is able to improve his performances. A concern remains of Tiesi and Vergallo with neither player reciving substantial game time so far this season. Horacio Agulla could well be used at outside center as a makeshift player given the back-three alternatives of Lucas González Amorosino, Martín Bustos Moyano, Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Imhoff with all playing well and meriting places in the starting lineup. This would mean Bosch and Agulla would be given preference to Tiesi and would also allow for two speedsters on the bench should Agulla start on the wing and be shifted to the midfield during a match.
Possible Squad of 35 for The Rugby Championship
Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England)
Maximilano Bustos (Montpellier, France)
Juan Figallo (Montpellier, France)
Juan Orlandi (Racing Métro, France)
Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)

Andres Bordoy (Pau, France)
Matias Corteze (Gloucester, England)
Agustín Creevy (Montpellier, France)
Patricio Albacete (Toulouse, France)
Manuel Carizza (Biarrtiz, France)
Mariano Galarza (Los Pampas XV)
Tomas Vallejos Cinalli (Harlequins, England)
Alejandro Campos (Los Pampas XV)
Julio Farías Cabello (Los Pampas XV)
Tomás de la Vega (Los Pampas XV)
Alvaro Galindo (Racing Métro, France)
Juan Leguizamón (Lyon, France)
Juan Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France)
Leonardo Senatore (Toulon, France)
Agustín Figuerola (Brive, France)
Alfredo Lalanne (London Scottish, England)
Nicolás Vergallo (Toulouse, France)
Felipe Contepomi (Stade Français, France)
Juan Martín Hernández (Racing Métro, France)
Ignacio Mieres (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz, France)
Santiago Fernández (Montpellier, France)
Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga (Stade Français, France)
Gonzalo Tiesi (Stade Français, France)
Horacio Agulla (Leicester Tigers, England)
Lucas González Amorosino (Montpellier, France)
Martín Bustos Moyano (Montpellier, France)
Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Juan Imhoff (Racing Métro, France)
Joaquín Tuculet (Sale Sharks, England)


  1. 1. M Ayerza
    2. A Creevy
    3. J Figallo
    4. M Carizza
    5. P Albacete
    6. JM Fernández Lobbe
    7. JM Leguizamón
    8. L Senatore
    9. N Vergallo/A Figuerola/M Landajo
    10. F Contepomi
    11. J Imhoff
    12. JM Hernández
    13. M Bosch
    14. M Bustos Moyano (kicker)
    15. LG Amorosino

    16. ?
    17. M Bustos
    18. T Vallejos
    19. ?
    20. N Vergallo/A Figuerola/M Landajo
    21. M Rodríguez Gurrachaga
    22. H Agulla

    Hopefully some new Pampas XV players will emerge though, the depth in the forwards looks a bit short, a new lock, hooker and #6 is required

  2. 1. Roncero
    2. Creevy
    3. Figallo
    4. Carizza
    5. Albacete
    6. Farias
    7. Leguizamón
    8. Lobbe
    9. Vergallo
    10. JMH
    11. J Imhoff
    12. Contepomi
    13. Bosch
    14. Camacho
    15. Amorosino

  3. On form it would be:

    1. Ayerza, 2. Creevy, 3. Figallo
    4. Carizza, 5. Albacete
    6. JM Fernández Lobbe, 8 Senatore, 7. Leguizamón

    9. Vergallo, 10. Contepomi
    12. Rodríguez, 13. Bosch
    11. J Imhoff 15. LG Amorosino 14 Agulla

    16. Bordoy
    17. Bustos
    18. Galarza
    19. Fariás
    20. Figuerola
    21. Hernández
    22. Camacho

    Figallo and Fernández Lobbe were picked despite both being injured. I´d be surprized if Hernández is not the 10 for the tournament. I think Contepomi will be 12.

    1. but the kickers in that team are the same ones which had the worst success from any nation in the World Cup, the kickers cost an easier quarter final

      that's why in my opinion Bustos Moyano has to play ahead of Agulla or Camacho, look at the kicks he was getting in the most recent video summary, they were really hard

      Argentina aren't going to thrash teams in the 4 Nations, so need all the points they get opportunities for, Contepomi's goal kicking has been dismal for over a year, and none of those kickers are first choice goal kickers at their clubs

      it would be really frustating if you left a match knowing you could have won if you kicked the penalties and conversions

      also I wouldn't play both Rodríguez and Bosch, they are the form centres, but the problem is that they are both not the greatest tacklers, Stade try and hide Rodríguez and move Contepomi to mark the hard running backs in defence, but look at the video summary from two weeks ago, Hernández has great defence and I would trust him more to take down Nonu, SBW, Fourie etc and also he wouldn't take much away from attack like Tiesi would

      I would play one of Rodríguez and Bosch but not both

    2. While goalkicking is paramount a player cannot merely be picked because of this attribute. I like Martín Bustos Moyano very much but for him to start he needs to keep up his good form for Montpellier and be tested in June for his country.

      Its undeniable that Argentina lack a goalkicker and that Bustos Moyano is a good solution. However, Los Pumas can make do without him. Remembering that in RWC 2007 it was Juan Martín Hernández playing flyhalf with the wonder kicker, Federico Todeschini watching on from the bench.

      There are six month months to go to determine the team. Bustos Moyano is in compeition with four others for a spot on the wing - Agulla, Camacho, González Amorosino, Imhoff. Its a good problem to have too many players and not enough positions.

      Juan Martín Hernández is an option for 12 as well as 10 and 15. At this stage he needs to demonstrate that he is still a big match perfomer. If he is able to play well then he´ll be picked at flyhalf with Contepomi playing 12. Again this is tough on Santiago Fernández and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga but having too many beats having too few.

    3. I agree that a player shouldn't be picked merely, but in this particular case there are numerous reasons why Bustos Moyano in my opinion should be preferred

      1. Contepomi and Rodríguez failed miserably with the boot at the World Cup and cost the England match and an easier quarter final, Dupuy kicks instead of them for Stade, Bosch's goal kicking wasn't that impressive whilst Yachvili was out either

      2. Bustos Moyano, isn't much of a step down from Agulla or Camacho, if there was a back three of Lomu, Wilson and Cullen dropping somebody for goal kicking would be a different matter, but Bustos Moyano is of a similar level to Agulla but with added goal kicking, Bustos Moyano wouldn't let down the side.

      3. Scotland have had a similar thing with Chris Paterson, after the 2007 World Cup and attacking skills went, he was retained ahead of other options such as Rory Lamont who were perhaps better in attack, because of his goal kicking, whenever Scotland made an upset (Australia, South Africa) it was because of Paterson and his accurate goal kicking, but also because they knew that although Paterson may not be able to spark counter attacks he would be solid in defence and under high balls.

      4. I don't think Argentina would have not got to the semi finals if Todeschini played, if Todeschini was around now he would go right into the team to sort out the kicking problems

  4. Bustos Moyano will struggle to remove Agulla from the team.