Thursday, August 1, 2013

Montpellier - Operation Pumas Downsizing

Montpellier has five fewer Pumas 
The impact of the Rugby Championship on Top 14 signings has been instrumental in the careers of a number of players. The likes of Marcelo Bosch, Agustín Creevy, Eusebio Guiñazú, Nahuel Lobo and Juan Pablo Orlandi are all in the Pumas squad and are also all moving from the Top 14 to play in the Aviva Premiership after the Rugby Championship. Their transfers are not motivated by an increased salary or, in the large part, not for increased game time. To the contrary Bosch and Creevy are examples of players who featured extensively for Biarritz and Montpellier but has opted to continue their professional careers for Saracens and the Worcerster Warriors.

The value of Argentine players has been effected due to the dates of the Rugby Championship clashing with the early rounds and the pre-season of the Top 14. With there being two automatic relegation places in the competition and the French league also being incredibly tough to secure Heineken Cup qualification the Top 14 has increasingly been becoming the most competitive professional competition in global rugby. An agreement between the UAR and European clubs sees Argentina unable to field its leading players for the June internationals due to the need for the players to rest and recover. It then sees Argentina field its leading team in the Rugby Championship, a tournament that finishes in October, while the Top 14 starts in mid August. 

What has, in effect, been taking shape is the best of the best have renegotiated new contracts in France while those who are not as comanding have not secured new deals. This is no clearer than in the case of Montpellier. The clubs has gone from seven Pumas last season to two for the 2012-2013 season and has not done so without controversy. Staying are Juan Figallo and Maximilano Bustos while Creevy and Lobo have both left for England and Martín Bustos Moyano has moved to Bayonne. Montpellier´s two other Pumas are currently without a club. Santiago Fernández was set to join Castres but the move was not completed. He remains on the market now and is joined by Lucas González Amorosino who will not be playing again for Montpellier despite having a three-year contract. Amorosino said "I'm no longer in Montpellier. I had a contract for three more years and they sacked me and now we went to court. The problem started with the coaches...

The stance of Montpellier has changed to match that of Biarritz in the 2012-2012 season. The Basque club wanted to retain Guiñazú and Manuel Carizza but on the condition that they would not play in the 2012 Rugby Championship. Both declined and were starters throughout the competition and subsequently joined Bath and Racing Métro to continue their professional careers. Carizza is arguably a much more notable player than either Maximilano Bustos or Francisco Goméz Kodela, two props left out of the squad for the Rugby Championship. Both continue playing for Montpellier and Biarritz due to the clubs having greater control over their availability. With Montpellier not having the same access to Fernández and González Amorosino these players have departed and are currently without clubs the likes of Patricio Albacete, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Figallo, Juan Martín Hernández and Juan Imhoff. All of whom have been able to renegotiate new long-term contracts. Their value is such that they are non-replacable or, in other words, elite players. 

The lack of a global season is the central problem needing to be resolved. Professional rugby competitions in both hemispheres need to be brought closer together to ensure that the product of international rugby is, at all times, meriting the name test rugby. Argentina´s home losses against England in June were clear instances of games that were officially international matches with IRB World Rankings on the line yet the make-up of the Argentine team was so far from matching what will play in the Rugby Championship that the matches were controversial. The IRB needs to see that the seasons can be altered to have the June internationals moved so that Argentina can select all its top players. It also needs to not harm the professional game due to professionalism being paramount to the quality of test rugby. 

1 comment:

  1. An intergrated season has been spoken of before, with both the powers of the six nations and sanzars not conceding anything.

    If ARG had its own pro structure then they would be mastering their own direction rather than their direction being mastered for them by British and French clubs.

    Japan has neither the quality of rugby nor the quality of players that Argentina has, but they certainly ain't worried about an intergrated season!