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Patricio Fernández started in Canberra
The future Argentine franchise in Super Rugby, Los Pampas XV, played its first ever match in the Pacific Cup earlier today and emerged with a notable result. The South Americans defeated the A team of the ACT Brumbies 32-23 in Canberra. Involved in the match was a large contingent of former under 20 Argentine players, many of whom are to form the basis of the Pumas side to face Ireland and Scotland in June and to play Super Rugby in 2016.
With the UAR and partner unions in SANZAR all wanting Argentina to have as strong of a team as possible the South American country is set to be added to Super Rugby in 2016. It is to serve as a means of enabling the next generation of Pumas players to be the first since Rugby World Cup 1999 to be playing their rugby in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Pumas side that gave global rugby an overdue wake up call at Rugby World Cup 2007 was a professional side. Of the starting lineup that defeated France to open the tournament only Horacio Agulla was not playing his rugby abroad. This was in marked contrast to Rugby World Cup 1999 when the majority of the side that defeated Ireland to reach the Quarter Finals were amateurs.
With no professional rugby at home players have been taking up offers abroad year after year. The majority have been signed to play in Europe, mostly in England and France where, at its peak, over sixty players from Argentina were playing in the Top 14 or Pro d2 competitions. The UAR has been unable to gain access to all players at all times for the pusposes of international duty due to rugby lacking genuine global governance.
With there being no global season Argentina´s home tests in June 2012 and June 2013 were matches in which Pumas based abroad who played in the Rugby Championship were unable to represent their country. This will occur again this coming June as around twenty-five players are expected to miss the home tests against Ireland and Scotland. This year will, however, be the final occasion in which this occurs due to the new policy chaired by Agustín Pichot set to attract those abroad to return to Argentina.
Pichot has been in talks with the players for six years and is confident that players will return home. Those winding up their careers are likely to remain in England and France while players in with a chance of playing at Rugby World Cup 2019 or in the Rugby Championship over much of the post 2015 period are considered likely to be a part of the Argentine Super Rugby franchise.
Joining them will be players currently involved with Los Pampas XV in the Pacific Cup. The squad coached by Martín Gaitán and Raúl Pérez is made up mainly of Pumitas players from the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship. It is, in other words, a team of players looking to break into the senior squad with an eye to Rugby World Cup 2015. A number of the players certainly have strong chances with Argentina in need of finding new players to replace Pumas whom were unable to perform to the required level in 2013 under Santiago Phelan.
In the first match of the competition in Canberra there were players to underline their potential. None more so than nineteen year old Patricio Fernández. The Rosario fly half scored twenty-two points for the Argentine side against the A team of Super Rugby side the ACT Brumbies. Fernández scored two tries and kicked four goals as the Pampas XV won the match by four tries to three.
Fernández scored a first half interception try which he converted in the 37th minute which was followed by a Rod Iona penalty on the stroke of half time which gave the Australians a 15-10 half time lead. Argentina took control after the interval. After Iona kicked a penalty to open the half Los Pampas XV took control with a penalty try in the 51st minute converted by Fernández. Three minutes later Fernández converted a try scored by promising second-rower Matías Alemanno. With it the Argentine side held the lead and it was extended with a Fernández penalty in the 68th minute. Tim Cree scored his second try of the match three minutes from full time but a Fernández penalty in the final minute ended the scoring with the South Americans winning 32-23.
1 Lucas Noguera Paz
2 Matías Cortese
3 Bruno Postiglioni
4 Matías Alemanno
5 Tomás Lavanini
6 Tomás de La Vega
7 Rodrigo Báez
8 Facundo Isa
9 Martín Landajo (Captain)
10 Patricio Fernández
11 Manuel Montero
12 Javier Rojas
13 Matías Moroni
14 Matías Orlando
15 Santiago Cordero