Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Aviva Premiership: Gonzalo Tiesi to remain at Newcastle until 2016

Photo Newcastle Falcons
Twenty-eight year old Argentine international outside centre Gonzalo Tiesi has committed to the Newcastle Falcons. With the Puma signing a new two-deal contract his future as a professional player in Europe is secure. Tiesi arrived at the Northern English club earlier this season and will now remain there until the completion of the 2015-2016 season in May. 

The well-traveled Tiesi has almost been playing professional rugby non-stop in Europe since 2005. That year he left Buenos Aires to play for London Irish and was joined at the club by long time close friend Juan Manuel Leguizamón. Tiesi left London Irish after two seasons to join the Harlequins where he, arguably, enjoyed the best form of his career from 2008-2010. 

At the Harlequins Tiesi received more game time and increased his reputation both in England and at test level. During this period he remained injury free and was one of Argentina´s better backs. He reunited with Leguizamón at Stade Français in 2010. His opportunities for the Parisian club were limited due to injury complications and he ultimately returned home to recover. 

Tiesi had been expected to be starting for Argentina in the 13 shirt in the first Rugby Championship but, instead, he would have to wait until November to play test rugby. He did so against Wales where he impressed in one of Argentina´s best performances in recent times. It was an emotional match for Tiesi who had entered Rugby World Cup 2011 as the starting outside centre but was injured in his country´s opening match.

He was replaced by Marcelo Bosch whom was moved to the position in the 2010-2011 season by his club at the time, Biarritz Olympique. Bosch went on to make the position his own with solid performances both in the World Cup and in the 2012 Rugby Championship. With Tiesi fit again he was in the 2013 Rugby Championship squad but used behind Bosch. 

Both players are now playing their rugby in England. During Rugby World Cup 2011 both were playing in the Top 14. Tiesi´s two seasons in France were followed by him being a medical joker for London Welsh last season and then or the Newcastle Falcons this season. With his contract at London Welsh ending last May he was able to play for Argentina against England and Georgia last June but will miss out on facing Ireland and Scotland this year as will Bosch. 

In their place Daniel Hourcade has a number of players to consider both at home and abroad. The likes of Javier Rojas, Jerónimo de La Fuente, Matías Moroni and Matías Orlando all played well in the IRB Pacific Cup for Los Pampas XV. In Europe there are players such as Joaquín Domínguez, Rafael Carballo, and Joaquín Tuculet to consider. Argentine Sevens player Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga is also a possibility.

Argentina also has players involved in the lower divisions but a call up is, at this stage, not likely. Domínguez is one uncapped player to have improved his reputation this season. Another is to join Tiesi at Newcastle next season and could well form a 12-13 combination. Indeed it is highly possible that the club will be fielding a starting mid-field combination of two Argentine players. Just last week Juan Pablo Socino also signed a two year contract with the Falcons

In agreeing to terms with the Newcastle Falcons Tiesi has effectively ruled himself out of playing Super Rugby for the new Argentine franchise set to join the competition in 2016. The new laws for Puma player eligibility are to come into effect at the completion of the 2014-2015 season. Players based in Europe will no longer be considered for international duty. Instead the UAR will restrict selection to players based either in Argentina or playing Super Rugby for any team in the competition. 

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