Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Rugby Championship Players to Watch - Tomás Cubelli


Young and unknown, Los Pampas XV´ Tomás Cubelli is a player who could go on to bigger and better things. The 23 year old scrumhalf has been one of the teams players to stand up in this seasons Vodacom Cup in South Africa. Cubelli is into his second season of Vodacom Cup rugby after having a good debut season in 2011. He made Los Pampas XV as the teams replacement for Agustín Figuerola who had taken up a professional contract in France with Brive. This meant Martín Landajo became Los Pampas´ senior scrumhalf for the 2011 season with Cubelli selected as his replacement. Or, so it was meant to be in theory. It reality it proved to be very different with Cubelli recieving plenty of game time and despite being considered as Argentina´s fifth choice scrumhalf and not making the greater squad of 50 players, he was one of only ten players to be signed by the UAR on full time professional contracts

His involvement as one of the UAR´s players means that Santiago Phelan and his assistants have big ideas for Cubelli and his form in the 2012 Vodaocm Cup would suggest that he has a strong chance of playing against Tier One opposition for Argentina. He certainly have the background to suggest he is a player being priemd for international duty. Cubelli is a former Argentine Under 18 and Under 20 player. In 2008, while Argentina were replacing Agustín Pichot Cubelli was playing for the Under 18 team vs Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. In 2009 he played against Chile, Ireland and South Africa at under 20 level. While his debut came in May 2010 vs Uruguay and he also played against Chile several days after making his first appearance in international rugby. In 2011 he again played two tests, against the same opponents, scoring his first test try in his second test of the year, vs Uruguay. Cubelli has also made appearances vs France A and Russia playing for Los Jaguares. 

Cubelli the Pampa
Despite his young age Cubelli has already captained Los Jaguares. He was chosen to lead the Argenitna A side in a pre-season match earlier this year against Tucumán. The future would indeed appear to be bright for the Buenos Aires scrumhalf and he, alongside fellow Los Pampas XV scrumhalf Martín Landajo, is making a serious challenge for a place in Los Pumas for international duty in 2012. While the Pampas XV pair have been playing week in, week out in the Vodacom Cup the three Pumas scrumhalves used by Santiago Phelan during his four years in charge of the national team thus far have not been doing the same thing in Europe. Argentina´s starting scrumhalf from Rugby World Cup 2011, Nicolás Vergallo has been reciving very little game time for Toulosue this season with the club prefering the services of Australian Luke Burgess and France´s Jean-Marc Doussain. His replacement in New Zealand, Alfredo Lalanne has been playing this season in Englands second division for London Scottish. While a player who many considered very unlucky to miss out on World Cup selection, Agustín Figuerola has been receiving quality minutes on the field for Brive and has signed a new contract with the club. Of the three, Figuerola would appear to be at the top of the list while Cubelli is certainly a strong contender to represent Argentina.

With twelve tests this year, Argentina are going to be utilziing the sevices of more players for international duty than what is normal. Santiago Phelan has already made this clear as he needs to look after the interests of European based players who have been playing non-stop since the pre World Cup matches in August. Phelan also needs to try combinations in search of the best possible team for Argentina to have the best possible chance of success in The Rugby Championship. A large squad of, at least 28 players, is certain to be used for The Rugby Championship and a squad of this size will have three scrumhalves. But Cubelli is more than just an outside chance regardless of how much or little game time Argentina´s three senior players in his position are getting. On for  alone, Cubelli merits a an international call up from Phelan. 

Cubelli scoring for Belgrano Athletic
Cubelli comes from Buenos Aires club, Belgrano Athletic.The club has produced some very important players for Los Pumas. Amongst them two are the most capped Puma of all time, former captain Lizandro Arbizu and current centre, Marcelo Bosch. Cubelli´s young age and contract with the UAR could well mean he could be the clubs lattest world class player. The club could also benefit greatly from him playing for Los Pumas as it could potentially have two Pumas playing in The Rugby Championship. 



Week Three: Marcelo Bosch
Week Four: Agustín Creevy
Week Eight: Rodrigo Roncero
Week Nine: Gonzalo Camacho

Week Ten: Patricio Albacete
Week Eleven: Horacio Agulla
Week Twelve: Juan Figallo
Week Thirteen: Santiago Fernández
Week Fourteen: Tomás Cubelli

Week Fifteen: Marcos Ayerza





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