Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Rugby Championship Players to Watch - Nicolás Vergallo

From Argentina´s third largest city, Rosario, Nicolás Vergallo is a no-nonsense scrumhalf. Standing at the short height of 1.7metres and weighing 77KG is not the ideal frame for an international rugby player but it has not stopped Vergallo´s rise to be Argentina´s leading player in his position. Now aged 28, Vergallo has been around Argentine rugby circles for quite some time and has gone on to be a professional player in France, wnning the 2011 French Championship. His style of play is very much to distribute ball to the backline and organize his forward pack and he excels at what he does. He has an accurate long pass and is also good at delivering box kicks - the essential skills of the position. While he is not known for a running game he has been seen darting into gaps and is not affraid of bigger players. This has enabled him to develop into a reliable player and one who will feature for Los Pumas in The Rugby Championship.

Vergallo for Dax
His international career has had its ups and down but in more recent times it has been of the positive form with Vergallo having a solid 2011 and performing to a high standard at Rugby World Cup 2011, where he started in all of Argentina´s matches. In total Vergallo has played 24 tests and has started in 21 as he has been Los Pumas´ prefered scrumhalf since the retired of Agustín Pichot after France 2007. Vergallo had been in the training squad for that tournament but was third choice behind Pichot and Nicolás Fernández Miranda. He nonetheless played both June tests in 2007 vs Ireland as Los Pumas collected two wins. He had made his debut two years earlier as a 22 year old in 2005 but it was 2008 that saw him get his real chance as he started all seven of Argentina´s tests and saw his life change as he signed a professional contract to play in the Top 14 for Dax. After two years with the club he upgraded to join Toulouse and is at the club on a long term contract. 

Tackle on Marc Andreu (France)
Since joining Toulouse Vergallo´ international career has improved as he has returned to being Los Pumas´ leading scrumhalf after playing only one test in 2009. Vergallo went from first choice to third behind Figuerola and Alfredo Lalanne in 2009. He was given a chance in 2010 vs France, however, and put in the best performance of his international career thus far as he organized his forwards superbly and gave his flyhalf, Felipe Contepomi, quality and quick ball. This saw him go on to start in all three of Argentina´s European tests in November 2010 and he took the chance to underline himself as the man to play scrumhalf for Argentina at New Zealand 2011. Vergallo had a solid World Cup, starting in all four pool matches as well as the Quarter Final vs the All Blacks.  

Vergallo for Toulouse vs Perpignan

Since New Zealand 2011, however, things have not been as positive for Vergallo. Toulouse have simply not known what to do with him due to the clubs new arrival, Australian Luke Burgess. The Wallaby has taken over as the clubs first choice number 9 with Jean-Marc Doussain also being preferred to the Puma. Since returnign to the club Vergallo has played in nine Top 14 matches with seven of the appearances being from the bench. He was avaliable for ten other rounds but was left out of the match day 23 entirely. Vergallo started 11 Top 14 matches for Toulouse last season and before that was Dax´s first choice scrumhalf for two seasons. It is not ideal for Pumas supporters and is worrying for Vergallo in particular as Agustín Figuerola of Brive received much more game time this season. Vergallo is also under pressure from both the Los Pampas XV scrumhalves, Tomás Cubelli and Martín Landajo who are both on full time UAR contracts and have been playing good rugby this year.

Vergallo, nonetheless remains Argentina´ first choice scrumhalf and his lack of game time this season at Toulouse could well work out in his favor as he will therefore have a greater chance of starting as Toulouse may well release him in time to play in all three of the June tests. While he has not been playing as often as anticipated he remains an important player for his country and should not be taken lightly. 

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
Week Sixteen: Manuel Carizza
Week Seventeen: Nicolás Vergallo
Week Eighteen: Juan Imhoff


  1. I like vergallo very much. I think he had a wonderful world cup. The try of legend against Scotland by Amorosino was really a vergallo set up as he directed the attack upfield brilliantly, with a wonderful run through the big scottish forwards, included. He is a classic puma player, resourceful, resilient, with sticky defense, scrappy around the loose balls, and with indomitable spirit. What more could a club or a coach ask for ??

    If you need a scrum half and you have vergallo ready to play, you don't need to worry about that position anymore, and a coach can move on and think about other aspects and issues of the game.

    Vergallo is like that, and it is so unfortunate for him that he is now in the flower of his maturity as a player, but he has burgess and dussain in front of him who are not exactly head and shoulders above him, especially with doussain, and it becomes a very subjective choice for a coach which one to choose.

    Either way, Argentina is lucky to have him, and he is the kind of player that adjusts quickly to not having been in many matches, because of his seize, his intelligence, and, above all, his maturity.

    And then there is cubelli; i think the future of Argentina's scrum half position.

    I have a soft spot for this player's style of play, the little I have seen of him, really; but everything he does, he does it with spirit, dynamic, effective, often brilliantly.

    I would love to see the game against brazil and the 111 points scored and see how much Cubelli's dynamic 'delta nine accelerator' style of play had to do with that performance. Because that's his signature, from what i have seen. And, yes, maybe the schedule was brutal for brazilian players, but still, i have a feeling that if landajo had played instead of him, the score would have been more around 60 or 70, not 111, which is a ridiculous performance by any standard, an orchestra of running rugby, a symphony of passing, contracting and tightening plays, and then exploding out and expanding plays that extend all the way to the try line; what fun for these boys.

    My theory is that cubelli had a lot to do with all that and he is at the moment argentina's brightest prospect at the local level, potentially a star.

    All the same, we'll certainly find out more this week; just happy for him and Club Belgrano that he is finally getting the chance he deserves.

  2. I just re-read what i wrote and i know believe abraham lincoln when he said that before we send what we write in a blog we should leave it in a folder for five days....ja....the tone is pontifical to say the least but its mindless enthusiasm....and not that im retracting anything but that im not writing here to four friends for example but in a public way and there has to be a little more respect for the reader....but mostly why put unnecessary pressure on a youngster and even bring up potential star and all that crap....im sorry really i am....not the proverbial coffee table conversation among a group of friends that like to harass one another and talk about sports....thats all....

  3. and also vergallo....honest.... he is way too good a player to be getting so little game time....he can interpret what is asked of him and make teams play....surely he can be sent somewhere else perhaps even on loan ??? Even a B team would be preferable to dressing up for games and not playing....loan him out if he is on long term contract but keep developing his skills and maintaining as well....I really do wish him better luck....

  4. I thought Vergallo had signed with Agen?