Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Focus of the Vodacom Cup: Places on Line for June

Pampas XV
Photo: Profocus Sánchez Checa
Loa Pampas XV Captain Mariano Galarza
There is a lot to look forward to from an Argentine perspective in this years Vodacom Cup. The competition has proven to be a breeding ground for international players and it is certain to produce Pumas again in 2013. Of the squad for this seasons competition there are seven big names: Tomás de La Vega, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli, Tomás Cubelli, Mariano Galarza, Martín Landajo, Manuel Montero, Leonardo Senatore. All are capped players and all are certain to be a part of the Argentine squad for June´s home tests against England and Georgia. Secondrower Galarza has been confirmed as the captain for the Vodacom Cup, replacing Julio Farías Cabello. 

The squad featured many uncapped players and many fringe players. There are a host who are meriting attention and are strong contenders for the squad. Of them two young players loom as future Pumas sooner rather than later - Santiago Cordero and Pablo Matera. The Vodacom Cup is perfect for both to shine and while both are teenagers they are strong candidates to play in Rugby World Cup 2015. Javier Rojas and Matías Orlando are two others who will be in the frame and one of them, at least,  should make the squad for June. 

Like in 2012 Santiago Phelan will not select players for The Rugby Championship who are contracted to European clubs and will feature in June. In 2012 this saw twenty-four players left out of the team for the June tests against Italy and France and meant that the Argentine team was made-up predominantly of players from the Vodacom Cup. Some of the players who did make the squad for The Rugby Championship may find themselves playing in June instead this year. This will be both good and bad, but overly it will be better for the individual players. Martín Bustos Moyano, for instance, recieved no game time in The Rugby Championship at all while he is a genuine contender to start in June. Simiraly Maximilano Bustos missed out as Juan Pablo Orlandi was used as the replacement tighthead prop. For 2013, however both are likely to play in June rather than in The Rugby Championship. 

An additional example is at centre as with Juan Martín Hernández now playing fullback and Nicolás Sánchez being his replacement at flyhalf the liklihood  is that one of Santi Fernández, Marcelo Bosch and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga will play in June and thus be left out of the squad for The Rugby Championship. All are versatile players and with an eye to 2015 all are very much in the frame. For June 2013 the player who should perhaps feature is Santi Fernández to play in the centres with a fit Felipe Contepomi, Lisandro Gómez Lopez, Rafael Carballo or a player from the Vodacom Cup. With Gonzalo Tiesi now in England he will not feature at centre and Joaquín Tuculet and Marcelo Bosch are likely to be in the squad for The Rugby Championship. Being this as it may leaving out Fernández, would be a very bold move and would not be likely even with Argentina having possibly three other players per position. Inside centre would be covered by Bosch and Rodríguez Gurruchaga and outside centre by Bosch, Tiesi, Tuculet and Horacio Agulla. Flyhalf would be covered by Sánchez and Hernández with Bosch being the third option while fullback would have Hernández, Tuculet, González Amorosino and Rodríguez Gurruchaga. 

There are also players who will not be staying in Europe that could feature in June. An example is Alvaro Galindo who will not stay at Racing Métro and in 2013 was overtaken by others to lose his place in the Pumas team. Although he started against South Africa he was overtaken by Leonardo Senatore and Tomás Leonardí. Both players have since signed professional contracts abroad but both should play in June as should Julio Farías Cabello who is playing in England now but only until late May. This being the case then there are twenty players who will not play for Argentina in June due to them being rested ahead of The Rugby Championship. 

Players not considered for June 2013 
Agustín Creevy, Eusebio Guiñazú
Marcos Ayerza, Maximilano Bustos, Juan Figallo
Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Cruz Guillemaín
Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamón
Nicolás Sánchez
Marcelo Bosch, Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga, Gonzalo Tiesi
Horacio Agulla, Gonzalo Camacho, Juan Imhoff
Lucas González Amorosino, Juan Martín Hernández, Joaquín Tuculet

Possible Pumas for June
1 Nahuel Lobo, 2 Bruno Postiglioni, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi 
(Montpellier, France), (Los Pampas XV), (Bath, England)*
4 Mariano Galarza, 5 Julio Farías Cabello
 (Los Pampas XV), (London Welsh, England)
6 Tomás de La Vega, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Leonardí
(Los Pampas XV), (Worcester, England)*, (Kings, South Africa)

9 Martín Landajo, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta
(Los Pampas XV), (Oyonnax, France)
12 Santiago Fernández, 13 Felipe Contepomi
(Montpellier, France), (Stade Français, France)
11 Manuel Montero, 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Martín Bustos Moyano
 (Los Pampas XV), (Los Pampas XV), (Bayonne, France)*

16 Martín García Veiga (Los Pampas XV) 
17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Stade Français, France)
18 Francisco Gomez Kodela (Biarritz, France)
19 Tomás Vallejos Cinalli (Los Pampas XV) 
20 Alvaro Galindo (Racing Métro, France)
21 Tomás Cubelli (Los Pampas XV)
22 Ignacio Mieres (Worcester, England)*
23 Javier Rojas (Los Pampas XV)

Additional Squad Members (seven)
Belisario Agulla (Agen, France) 
Gabriel Ascarate (Carcassonne, France)
Emiliano Coria (Los Pampas XV)
Pablo Henn (Brive, France)
Esteban Lozada, (Agen, France)
Juan Pablo Socino (Dax, France)
Nicolás Vergallo (Southern Kings, South Africa)

* Player will join the club for the 2013-2014 season


  1. Considering age and growing a team for the future, Farias Carbello should be dropped for Matias Alemanno an out an out quality lock.
    I also think that players such as Matias Orlando, Juan Ignacio Brex and Juan cappiello need to be thrown into the deep end, as Los Pumas pool of centres isn't so strong and most of them will be 30 come 2015!

  2. The Pampas XV has been one of the biggest success stories of Argentine rugby. South Africa were very good to allow the Pampas XV to compete.

    It's only been 3 seasons, yet already the team has been a proven way of giving a platform for the best players without European contracts and still based in Argentina to get into the main setup.

    Juan Imhoff, Maximiliano Bustos, Nicolas Sanchez and Joaquin Tuculet are four examples of players who got launched onto the Pumas radar thanks to the Pampas XV.

    And it is a big opportunity for those in the squad this year to impress and get in the June squad as well.

    I will be especially watching out for Tomas Cubelli (last year's star), Manuel Montero, Emiliano Coria, Santiago Cordero and Tomas de la Vega to step up into the Pumas ranks this year. A couple of them even to the RC team.