Friday, May 25, 2012

Argentina Squad for June

Santiago ´Tati´ Phelan
The UAR´s announcement of the first senior squad for 2012 took place yesterday afternoon. It was highlighted by the inclusion of the veteran pair of loosehead prop Rodrigo Roncero and flyhalf and captain Felipe Contepomi, veterans of four Rugby World Cup´s. Both players are not going to be playing for their country after 2012. Their selection, however, was more about experience than anything else as Santiago Phelan named a squad than can be described as nothing other than under strength. Phelan has rested World Cup players with Contepomi and Roncero only being joined by Julio Farías Cabello, Genaro Fessia, Agustín Gozio and Leonardo Senatore to give Los Pumas just six players from the squad that competed at Rugby World Cup 2011.
In place of the European professionals, Phelan has taken the bold step of naming 16 players from Los Pampas XV. No players from the play-offs of the Top 14 and the Aviva Premiership have been included which would appear to reflect the negotiations between the UAR and European clubs to not over play players. It also creates a problem, however, with players participating in The Rugby Championship sseemingly entering the international season without playing other tests. Martín Bustos Moyano, for instance remains a strong contender to be Argentina´s starting winger despite only having ever played one international four years ago. While he has been let out due to the Top 14 barrage, Phelan has gone for Top 14 players from Agen, Biarritz, Brive and Stade Français as well as Aviva Premiership players from Exeter, the Harlequins and Sale. The most notable inclusion being Ignacio Mieres who had a tremendous season at flyhalf for Exeter seeing the club qualify for the 2012-2013 Heineken Cup. He now looks set to form a 10-12 combination with Felipe Contepomi and is likely to also be the goalkicker. The pair are likely to be backed up by Benjamin Urdapilleta who played in the centre for the Harlequins over the past two seasons.

But, not all players from outside the leading Top 14 sides have been selected. While Contepomi is in there is no Marcelo Bosch or Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga with the World Cup pair both being rested ahead of The Rugby Championship. Neither Biarritz not Stade Français will compete in the Top 14 play-offs which suggests firmly that the June internationals should indeed be the end of the road for Contepomi who is set to pass the torch. Of course, Phelan could very well make changes during June to field an entirely different team for the French tests. However, neither Italy nor France will be at full strength, suggesting that the squad Phelan has named is actually not as weak as it may appear to be. To the contrary, the June tests are going to be far from what they could be.

Curiously there is no place in the squad for Brive scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola, Bordeaux winger Rafael Carballo or Agen centre Miguel Avramovic. The non-selection of these players appears to suggest that their international careers are over with Phelan opting to give high-performance players a chance to shine with the impressive Tomás Cubelli likely to be the starting scrumhalf and both Gabriel Ascárate and Matías Orlando picked ahead of Avramovic. The make up of the squad also suggests that Los Pampas XV captain, Julio Farías Cabello is now considered a secondrower rather than a backrower. He should start in the number 4 shirt. 

Suggested XV to face Italy:
15 Joaquín Tuculet
14 Belisario Agulla
13 Agustín Gozio
12 Felipe Contepomi
11 Manuel Montero
10 Ignacio Mieres
9 Tomás Cubelli
8 Leonardo Senatore
7 Tomás de la Vega
6 Tomás Leonardi
5 Santiago Guzmán
4 Julio Farías Cabello
3 Francisco Gómez Kodela
2 Andrés Bordoy
1 Rodrigo Roncero

Bench: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Rodrigo Baez, 19 Genaro Fessia, 20 Martín Landajo, 21 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 22 Gabriel Ascárate

The clash vs Italy will take place in San Juan on Saturday June 09 and will  be followed by two matches against France on the two subsequent Saturday´s. The first taking place in Córdoba and the second in Tucumán. 

29 Man Pumas Squad
Belisario Agulla (Agen, France)
Gabriel Ascárate (Los Pampas XV)
Rodrigo Báez (Los Pampas XV)
Facundo Barrea (Los Pampas XV)
Andrés Bordoy (Pau, France)
Rodrigo Bruno (Los Pampas XV)
Felipe Contepomi (Stade Français, France)
Tomás Cubelli (Los Pampas XV)
Tomás de la Vega (Los Pampas XV)
Julio Farías Cabello (Los Pampas XV)
Genaro Fessia (Los Pampas XV)
Francisco Gómez Kodela (Biarritz, France)
Agustín Gozio (London Scottish, England)
Eusebio Guiñazú (Biarritz, France)
Santiago Guzmán (Los Pampas XV)
Pablo Henn (Brive, France)
Martín Landajo (Los Pampas XV)
Tomás Leonardi (Los Pampas XV)
Benjamin Macome (Los Pampas XV)
Ignacio Mieres (Exeter Chiefs, England)
Román Miralles (Los Pampas XV)
Manuel Montero (Los Pampas XV)
Matías Orlando (Los Pampas XV)
Bruno Postiglioni (Los Pampas XV)
Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)
Leonardo Senatore (Los Pampas XV)
Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Stade Français, France)
Joaquín Tuculet (Sale Sharks, England)
 Benjamin Urdapilleta  (Harlequins, England)


  1. Interesting and bold selections....the pumas are planning for the future no doubt about that....and going for it....its logical seeing how much we are investing on the pampas and the pladar program....

    best part of this list in my opinion is cubelli's call for action....

    i like the rotations with the pampas and now at the consur tournament....every player every match knows he has a chance to make the first team and its a great incentive to keep working hard....

    the next step is SANZAR....especially for our scrumhalfs and wings....we need to get a handful of wings playing at Super Rugby level as soon as the form of his life.... should now focus on getting a super rugby contract as should Cubelli....

    the ideal situation would be for an argentine team....just one will not be easy the first year....but they'll be competitive very soon....then we'd have the pampas developing players for a first team....IDEAL scenario for establishing argentine rugby in the 4Nations....

    If the pampas players can take on france and italy it will go on a long way to proving how realistic this approach would be for SANZAR and world rugby....

    I want to also take the opportunity to congratulate the management teams of the UAR for the stupendous job they are doing with these much has been accomplished in the last three years....impeccable professionals all the way to Daniel....Thank You.

  2. What has happened to Mariano Galarza?