Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rugby Championship: Tiesi talks about being dropped by Hourcade

Photo UAR
Alongside Patricio Albacete, Santiago Fernández and Eusebio Guiñazú Gonzalo Tiesi was match fit but not selected for either the June internationals or the Rugby Championship training squad. The non-selection of Tiesi by Daniel Hourcade has, as such, resulted in the twenty-year old being involved in pre-season training with the Newcastle Falcons in full capacity. It marks the first time in the career of the 37 time capped outside centre that he has not been selected when fit and Tiesi admits that his non-selection has been ''a hard one for me to take''. 

With Argentina lacking a Tier One international competition to play in outside of the Rugby World Cup home test matches were very hard to come by against SANZAR nations prior to Los Pumas gaining a place in the new Rugby Championship. So much so that between Rugby World Cups 1999 and 2011 Argentina only hosted Australia once, New Zealand twice and South Africa three times. During the same period Wales hosted the three sides seven times each for a total of twenty-one tests compared to Argentina's six.

With such limited opportunities the UAR was often forced to accept test matches at times when it could not gain full access to professional players. The consequence was that even though Los Pumas were playing far less often against top sides than comparable sides many of the test matches were over before they had begun.

The recent June internationals featured below par Argentine teams hosting Ireland and Scotland for the same reason - the matches took place at times in which the UAR was unable to select Argentina's top side. In 2004 this resulted in a test debut for the then nineteen year old Gonzalo Tiesi. He was one of six debutants in the Argentine team that afternoon in Buenos Aires.

Argentina's home test against South Africa was played on December 4, thus outside of the November international window. It was the only time such a test could be organized due to June being off limits and South Africa having played November tests in Europe. For Tiesi it was nonetheless an opportunity and it indeed saw him break into the senior squad the following year.

His call up to international level quickly saw him spotted and signed to play professional rugby in England. Tiesi joined London Irish in 2005 and remained there for three seasons before moving to rivals the Harlequins in 2008. At the Quins Tiesi established himself as one of the leading outside centres in England and was named in the 2009 Sky Sports Dream Team.

He subsequently moved to Paris to join Stade Français but injury cut his stay short and saw him return to SIC in Greater Buenos Aires in 2012 before then returning to England to play for London Welsh in early 2013. Injuries had seen Tiesi's Rugby World Cup ended in the opening match in 2011 against England and had also seen him miss the 2012 Rugby Championship. He played in 2013 and subsequently joined the Newcastle Falcons in November 2013 and has a contract with the club until 2016.

Having played well for Newcastle in the 2013-2014 season, and even captaining the side, Tiesi did expect to be selected by Daniel Hourcade. ''I Felt I had a good run of games for the Falcons at the end of last season, so I was fit and playing pretty well.'' But in being left out Tiesi is looking to bounce back as he commented ''I have been left out now and I have to get over it.''

Tiesi is now concentrating on club duty in the Aviva Premiership and he contends that ''if I deliver for the Falcons hopefully I can be called in again by my country.'' The Aviva Premiership gets under way on September 5. Newcastle will face the Leicester Tigers away on September 6.  

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