Friday, September 13, 2013

Tomás Cubelli to get first Rugby Championship start

Whilst many of the players from the Marcelo Loffreda's side who have retired have been adequately replaced, there has been one position which has proved harder than any other. At scrum half, Agustín Pichot the inspirational leader and in one of Argentina's greatest ever players has left a massive hole in the side and been the the hardest to replace of any of that side.

Cubelli in Pampas XV attire
Nicolás Vergallo, Alfredo Lalanne, Agustín Figuerola and Martín Landajo have all had chances but none have cemented the jersey long term, and now Landajo has been dropped exactly a year after he became first choice from Vergallo.

The fifth scrum half to have a chance is now the 24 year old Tomás Cubelli from Buenos Aires. He has gradually worked his way up to the first choice starting position after first appearing for the Jaguars in 2010 and has been pushing for a starting place particularly hard over the past 18 months with consistent standout performances for the Pampas XV and Jaguars.

Cubelli offers a more controlled game than Landajo who is more of the darting sniping scrum half, whilst offers more of a running threat than Vergallo and is the most rounded option skill wise the Pumas have.

Notably in the recent June fixture with Georgia, Cubelli's talents were finely demonstrated as he dug his side out of a hole, in what was an tough and attritional match with penalties dictating the game, the scrum half showed very impressive tactical kicking skills before securing the match with a 45 metre run for a try with the game loosening up. His form was good enough that there was a very serious case for starting him from the start of the Rugby Championship.

In a position that requires intelligence and awareness, Cubelli has also shown this in spades. Last year during the Vodacom Cup match against the SWD Eagles, Cubelli chased the winger Alshaun Bock in a lost cause, and although he didn't stop him scoring the try he forced him to touch down in the corner and the conversion was missed. Then later in the match Cubelli sneaked under the defence to score a try and then pinched an extra 10 metres to make the conversion easier. It was small things to do, but in the end the difference in the match was 4 points, and Cubelli made a difference in a tight match.
Martín Landajo and Tomás Cubelli
are set to be competitors for the
Pumas 9 jersey for many years

Despite possessing a wide range of qualities at scrum half and having very good potential to be the one to lock down the Pumas scrum half position and be the starter by the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He is only a year younger than his main rival for the position Martín Landajo who is still got plenty of rugby left in him and time to work on his weaknesses, so he will need to work hard to stay on form to maintain the jersey.

Cubelli comes from a very sporting background, his brother Francisco Cubelli won 2 caps for the Pumas at scrum half in 2009 against Uruguay and Chile, his sister is a professional tennis player, his mother was a former member of the Argentina national field hockey team, and his father Alejandro Cubelli won 17 caps for the Pumas at hooker between 1977 and 1990.

Back in 1979, Alejandro Cubelli played in the first ever match between the sides in Buenos Aires which Argentina won 24-13. Also in the side that day was Tomás Landajo, father of Cubelli's scrum half rival Martín Landajo. With a Cubelli and a Landajo on the teamsheet again 34 years on, they will be hoping it is a good omen for the side and they can defeat the Aussies again and follow in their father's footsteps.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, good stuff on 'el huron cubelli', (the ferret). Good Job !