Monday, October 7, 2013

Santiago Fernández signs for Bayonne

Fernández scores for Montpellier in the 2011 Top 14 Semi Final win in Matrseilles
After holding down a starting position in the Montpellier mid-field from 2010-2013 the 29 times capped former Hindu fly half will continue professional his career in France.

With Argentina playing in the Rugby Championship there have been Pumas players contracted to leading clubs in England and France who have had issues in representing their country. Clubs including Biarritz, Exeter, Leicester, Montpellier, Racing Métro have all made it clear that they are not happy with the arrangement which sees them missing players to international duty during the early rounds of the competition. 

In the case of France there have been nine rounds played already and no player to have taken the field in the Rugby Championship for Argentina this year was involved. The only squad member to have played thus far is Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga who was unused by Santiago Phelan in the 2013 Rugby Championship. Fernández had been an important player for Montpellier but the club let him and others go to ensure it would not have its early season matches disrupted. 

As such Fernández was listed as unattached throughout the Rugby Championship but has now been confirmed as a new player for Bayonne. after having strongly been linked to a move to Top 14 champions Castres. It is to be his second French club after he played three years for Montpellier, arriving in 2013. The Puma played the majority of his career as the club´s starting inside centre and  was also used, when required, as back-up to François Trinh-Duc at fly half. 

The 27 year old Puma was used at 10 for much of last seasons Heineken Cup in which Montpellier qualified for the Quarter Finals for the first time. He was also the starting fly half for Argentina in the 2011 Quarter Final against New Zealand and also played in the 10 shirt against Romania, Georgia and Scotland. Despite this Fernández continues to be considered best at inside-centre and it is here that Bayonne is likely to use him.

Bayonne has not had a good start to the season and is currently second from bottom and facing relegation. He will, likely, be used at inside centre in a 10-12 combination with New Zealander Stephen Brett. Fernández is set to join his former Montpellier Argentine colleague Martín Bustos Moyano at the club. His move to Bayonne was confirmed by ESPN Scrum Argentina.

Fernández will be 29 during Rugby World Cup 2015 and remains in the frame despite having been used in 2013 behind the now retired Felipe Contepomi. There are other players unattached during the Rugby Championship that are expected to also be confirmed at new clubs.

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