Saturday, April 18, 2015

Super Rugby: Leading Pumas Fly half joins Argentine Franchise

Photo Apleno Rugby
Argentina's interest in fielding a competitive team in Super Rugby in 2016 continues to be boosted as regular players in the country's test side continue to sign for the home union.  First choice fly half Nicolás Sánchez has been unveiled as the latest signatory. The Tucumán pivot has returned home to Argentina from Toulon and will be available for Argentina and the country's Super Rugby franchise at all times throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018. Starting in 2016 only players based in Argentina will be considered for international duty. 

Aged 26 and with thirty test caps to his name Nicolás Sánchez is an important player for Argentina heading in to Rugby World Cup 2015. Although the tournament is to be his second World Cup, if selected, it will be his first as a regular player. Sánchez made his debut against elite opposition for Argentina against Romania in Rugby World Cup 2011 ad did so from the bench after Felipe Contepomi had been ruled out of the match and Juan Martín Hernández missed the tournament through injury. 

Initially capped in the 2010 South American Championship it was not until 2012 that opportunies at the elite level came for Sánchez. His breakthrough came in an away win against Wales in November of that year and his performance has seen him hold down the starting position until today. His rise coincided with that of Argentine head coach Daniel Hourcade who utilized Sánchez as his first choice fly half for the Pampas XV in the team's 2011 Vodacom Cup winning effort in South Africa. 

Like many Sánchez signed to play in Europe with him joining Bordeaux-Begles. He played for the Top 14 side from 2011-2014 before returning to Argentina ahead of the international season. Under the command of Hourcade Sánchez saw his team playing a different brand of rugby to that of previous years and the team reaped the rewards with wins over Australia, France and Italy. 

With Toulon requiring injury motivated cover Sánchez joined Toulon on a short-term deal as a medical joker and made match-winning appearances in both the Top 14 and European Rugby Champions Cup. With his contribution being widely applauded the UAR acted quickly to sign him on a long term deal that will see him playing Super Rugby from 2016-2018 and also being available at all times  when required for international duty. 

Sánchez joins captain Agustín Creevy and fullback Joaquín Tuculet in returning from Europe to join his country's first professional team and the trio are unique, to date, in having agreed to terms to sign three year deals. The extent of their contracts is based on thre UAR placing confidence in them all being probable players for Rugby World Cup 2019. 

Additional players currently based in Europe are expected to sign with the UAR before the completion of the current club season. Among those second-rower Tomás Lavanini and tighthead prop Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro are regarded as highly likely to complete contracts this month. Like Sánchez, both players have been in the Top 14 this season. 

Player
Position
Age
Club
Union
Contracted
Agustín Creevy
Hooker
30
Worcester
England
2016-2018
Julián Montoya
Hooker
21
Newman
URBA
2015
Santiago Gon. Valdez
Hooker
21
Universitario
Tucumán
2015
Matías Díaz
Tighthead
21
Unattached
Cuyo
2015
Bruno Postiglioni
Loosehead
27
La Plata
URBA
2015-2016
Lucas Noguera Paz
Loosehead
21
Lince
Tucumán
2015-2017
Matías Alemanno
Second-row
23
La Tablada
Córdoba
2015-2017
Guido Petti
Second-row
20
Hindú
URBA
2015-2017
Rodrigo Báez
Back-row
26
Liceo
Cuyo
2015-2017
Facundo Isa
Back-row
21
Lawn Tennis
Santiagueña
2015-2017
Tomás Lezana
Back-row
21
Lawn Tennis
Santiagueña
2015-2017
Pablo Matera
Back-row
21
Unattached
URBA
2015-2017
Javier Ortega Desio
Back-row
24
Estudiantes
Entre Rios
2015-2017
Tomás Cubelli
Scrumhalf
25
Belgrano
URBA
2015-2017
Martín Landajo
Scrumhalf
26
CASI
URBA
2015-2017
Santiago Gon. Iglesias
Fly half
26
Alumni
URBA
2015-2017
Nicolás Sánchez
Fly half
26
Toulon
France
2016-2018
Gabriel Ascárate
Centre
27
Natacion
Tucumán
2015-2017
Jerónimo De la Fuente
Centre
27
Duendes
Rosario
2015-2017
Matías Moroni
Centre
23
CUBA
URBA
2015-2017
Matías Orlando
Centre
23
Huirapuca
Tucumán
2015-2017
Manuel Montero
Wing
23
Pucará
URBA
2015-2017
Ramiro Montoya
Fullback
24
Lince
Tucumán
2015-2017
Joaquín Tuculet
Fullback
25
Cardiff Blues
Wales
2016-2018

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