Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who will captain Los Pumas?

Following the completion of the June internationals, Argentina is left without a captain as Felipe Contepomi has led his country for the final time. Just who will replace him remains to be confirmed as Headcoach Santaigo Phelan is to consult with the players before making a decision as to who should lead Argentina in this new era with the South Americans debuting in The Rugby Championship. The decision will nto only be made with The Rugby Championship in mind but also the greter interests of the team and the player is all but certain to be the man leading the team at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. There are a number of options including the experienced winger, Horacio Agulla who has previously led Argentina against South American opposition. Another is Agustín Creevy who has captained Los Jaguares and Los Pampas XV but there are  two leading contenders for the vacant position: Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Patrício Albacete. Of these two one is certain to be the new leader of Los Pumas. 

JM Fernández Lobbe vs England
RWC 2011
30 year old backrower, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe has previously captained Argentina in place of Contepomi. He was chosen to lead Argentina firstly in November 2008 vs Ireland after Contepomi was unable to play due to having infected his wrist vs Italy one week earlier. He retained the captaincy for all of 2009 as Contepomi underwent knee surgery in May and only returned to test rugby in June 2010. Fernández Lobbe stood out in leading Argentina to wins over England and Scotland as captain. He was selected as captain ahead of more experienced players and proved to be a great leader. He has been playing professional rugby since 2006 and has captained teams in both England and France. He captained the Sale Sharks in the 2008-2009 season before leaving to play for Toulon with whom he has acted as captained on numerous occassions. Fernández Lobbe is from a strong rugby family. His brother, Carlos Ignacio, played 65 tests for Los Pumas and was a leading performer in both England and France, while Juan Martín was still an amateur based in Buenos Aires. After his performance in the Los Pumas´ first match of Pool B many were calling him the best number 8 in the world. Fernández Lobbe made his test debut vs Uruguay in 2004 and has earned  43 test caps for Los Pumas.

Patricio Albacete vs Ireland
RWC 2007
Aged 31 years, Patrício Albacete is a well respected secondrower, considered to be amongst the best in Europe. He has been playing international rugby since making his test debut in 2003 vs Paraguay and in addition to having earned 46 test caps he is a veteran of three Rugby World Cup´s, having quickly secured the starting position shortly after making his international debut as a 22 year old. Following Rugby World Cup 2003 Albacete moved to France to play for Colomiers for the 2003-2004 season and then played for Pau from 2004-2006, when both clubs were in the elite division. Since 2006 he has been playing for Toulouse with whom he is a three time French Champion, having won the Top 14 in 2008, 2011 and 2012. He is also a European Champion, having won the Heineken Cup in 2011 and has been a constant member of the Top 14 Dream team of the year since his arrival at Toulouse. Albacete has been a permanent starter for both club and country with the number 5 shirt being on his back non-stop. He has acted as captain of Toulouse on occassion and following the retirement of Contepomi in addition to Martín Scelzo, Mario Ledesma and the soon to retire, Rodrigo Roncero, Albacete is the most capped player in the squad for The Rugby Championship. 

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