Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Super Rugby: Báez and Alemanno sign for Argentine Franchise

Photo Im Córdoba
The UAR has confirmed the signatures of two more players who have been contracted on three year deals. Puma second-rower Matías Alemanno and back-rower Rodrigo Báez have become the fourth and fifth members of Argentina's Super rugby franchise which is to debut in the 2016 competition. Both players were heavily involved in Argentina's international campaign in 2014 and were involved with the Pampas XV in the Pacific Cup. The pair both advanced to Los Pumas through the age-grade system.

The confirmation of Rodrigo Báez and Matías Alemanno sees Cuyo and Córdoba each with a player. The three signatures of Martín Landajo, Pablo Matera and Guido Petti, announced last week, were players from Buenos Aires. While rugby has long been a nationwide sport in Argentina the level of rugby played has not seen a general distribution which was clear in Rugby World Cup 2007 when 26 of the 30 man squad were players from Buenos Aires. 

The High Performance PladAR program has seen active changes that have resulted in more players from more of the regional centres advancing to Los Jaguares, Pampas XV and, indeed, Los Pumas. Both Báez and Alemanno are products of PladAR and now both are to be Super Rugby players. Báez has been in the system since its creation in 2008 with him playing in the 2010 Junior World Championship and Alemanno doing so in 2012.

With Argentina suffering the loss of players to injury both Alemanno and Báez started Rugby Championship test matches in 2014. The 25 year old Báez started in the win over Australia in  his home town of Mendoza and retained the spot against Scotland in November only to get injured. Alemanno also missed out on tests in November after he had played for the Barbarians v Australia.

Earlier in 2014 Alemanno overtook Manuel Carizza to be in Argentina's Rugby Championship squad and started against Australia on the Gold Coast. The 23 year old debuted in 2014 against Uruguay and remained in daniel Houcade's squad for the duration. Báez has been capped 16 times and Alemanno 11. 

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