Sunday, March 30, 2014

Top 14: Urdapilleta and Figuerola push for June selection

Former Pumas Agustín Figuerola and Benjamín Urdapilleta were on fine form on Saturday for Oyonnax v Grenoble in the Top 14. The Argentine duo was heavily involved in Oyonnax´s crucial bonus point victory which saw the small town eastern French club boost its chances of avoiding relegation. With three rounds left and the club also having a match in hand Oyonnax has control over its own fate. At the helm for Oyonnax is an Argentine halves combination with two players whom have not been regularly utilized for international duty producing a high standard of rugby. The two players could well find themselves facing Ireland and Scotland in June. 

Urdapilleta started for the fifteenth time in the Top 14 this season. His twenty point haul saw him directly contribute to Oyonnax´s home victory over Grenoble, a result which saw the club rise to be tied with Bayonne in the race to avoid relegation. The goal kicking fly half is averaging over ten points a match now for Oyonnax and is tied with Rory Kockott, the same player who saw Castres win the Top 14 last season. 

Both Urdapilleta and Kockott have scored 193 points so far in the Top 14 this season. The total places Urdapilleta in sixth position overall and makes him the leading Argentine points scorer in the competition ahead of Martín Bustos Moyano who has scored 172. With four matches remaining and Urdapilleta likely to start all of them he could very well finish as one of the top four. 

Joining Urdapilleta to form an Argentine 9-10 combination at Oyonnax has been Agustín Figuerola. The pair have impressed together in forming the starting combination for a premier division side in Europe. Figuerola has started 16 matches in the Top 14 so far this season and like Urdapilleta he is still in his 20´s. 

Urdapillata last played for Argentina against Georgia in June 2013 while Figuerola has not played a test since 2010. He was dropped by Santiago Phelan following Argentina´s dour performance in Mar del Plata against Scotland and was subsequently left out despite playing for Brive in the Top 14. 

Figuerola is now, at best third choice behind Martín Landajo and Tomás Cubelli but unlike both players he has experience as a professional player in Europe. The form of Figuerola implies that Daniel Hourcade will be quite possibly selecting him for June. 

The same holds true for Urdapilleta who is arguably one of the top two goal kicking fly half from Argentina today. Nicolás Sánchez is likely to be free to play for Argentina in June and be the goal kicker. Santiago Fernández should also play and likely be the starting inside centre. Urdapilleta would therefore be a strong candidate for the 22 shirt to act as cover for both positions. Standing in his way is a 19 year old, Patricio Fernández. 

1 comment:

  1. patricio fernandez will be at the JWC in auckland.