ARC Preview – Argentina

argentina-lautaro-bazan-scotland-u20

Story Source: http://www.americasrugbynews.com/

It’s almost here, the groundbreaking new test rugby tournament begins this Saturday. The bringing together of Rugby World Cup regulars Argentina, Canada, and the USA along with the rapidly developing Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile gives the Americas a legitimate and highly promising platform for rugby to grow throughout the region.

2015 FORM

Based on reputation alone Argentina enter the the undisputed favorite to win the Americas Rugby Championship. Los Pumas’ campaign at RWC 2015 was a roaring success due to the playing style of flair and strength demonstrated by Daniel Hourcade’s players.

Argentina finished fourth in the world and did so on the back of larger than expected victories over Georgia, Tonga, and Ireland. This was possible due to the progression of the team under Hourcade with belief and confidence having been the focal point to turn a defensive-oriented side with bullying forwards into one willing to attack from anywhere.

Exposure to the Rugby Championship was the catalyst for the evolving philosophy. It underlined to the Argentine authorities that their historical method of play required alteration if they were to be capable to winning matches. The next step is to now win consistently and Super Rugby is vital to Argentina being able to do so.

POST-RWC 2015

Los Pumas ended 2015 by returning to England for a one-off assignment, facing the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium. The match was the first of its kind due to European contracted players being deemed ineligible for international honors for the first time under the new laws.

Missing in action were some of Argentina’s most noteworthy players from the first four years of the Rugby Championship and RWC 2011. From RWC 2015, all of Horacio Agulla, Marcos Ayerza, Marcelo Bosch, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Figallo, Mariano Galarza, Lucas González Amorosino, Juan Imhoff, and Juan Pablo Socino were gone.

Without them Argentina was not deterred and continued with the flair from the World Cup to defeat a star-studded Barbarians side 49-31 in London. The team from that day, though, is vastly different to what Argentina will field in the ARC. Of those involved only fullback Ramiro Moyano and replacement hooker Santiago Iglesias Valdez remain on the roster.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Moyano is one of three Super Rugby contracted players, Rodrigo Báez and Matías Orlando being the others. All three have been wider roster members for Los Pumas in recent years with injury set-backs harming the latter two’s opportunities. The trio will now use the ARC to work towards firstly gaining game time with Los Jaguares and thereafter with Los Pumas.

None of them ought to be considered as guaranteed to hold down a starting spot for Argentina. Facundo Bosch has been used ahead of Iglesias Valdez in the past, while both Báez and Moyano will face genuine challenges from young players who have come through the ranks with Los Pumitas u20s.

EDIT: Bosch has this morning been ruled out with injury and replaced by Gaspar Baldunciel.

At just 19 years of age, Domingo Miotti is one of two flyhalves on Pablo Bouza’s roster. The youngster is an exciting prospect who merits his place on the roster. He could cause havoc for the opposition and the prospective halves combination of Miotti outside Gonzalo Bertranou is very encouraging for the growth and depth of Argentine resources.

In the pack the 2.01m and 120Kg frame of second row Ignacio Larrague is one to watch over carefully. In his first year with Los Pumitas he started alongside Guido Petti against England and Fiji at the 2014 Under 20 World Championship. He and 2015 u20 World Championship teammate Cristian Bartoloni are highly regarded 20-year-olds. Bartoloni has not only the skills but also the height and weight requirements to succeed at test rugby.

VERDICT

Do not be fooled into thinking this Argentina will be a weak side. The team is comparable to teams that have performed well in the former ARC tournament that the Americas used to build depth ahead of November tours. Indeed, the Argentina Jaguares side was undefeated winning all games in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. With Super Rugby now here and PladAR an unquestionable success, Argentina are surely favorites to be crowned champions in 2016.

FIXTURES

Feb 6 vs USA Houston 19:10 CST, 22:10 ART
Feb 13 vs Chile San Juan 18:10 ART
Feb 20 vs Uruguay Maldonado 20:30 UYT / ART
Feb 26 vs Canada Rosario 18:10 ART
Mar 5 vs Brazil São José dos Campos 20:10 BRT / ART

SQUAD

NAME POS HGT WGT DOB CAPS CLUB
Arregui, Felipe PR 1.89
6-2
118
260
Jun 9
1994
0 Duendes
Bartoloni, Cristian PR 1.92
6-4
120
265
Aug 26
1995
0 Pucará
Brarda, Franco PR ?
?
?
?
0 Tala
Pieretto, Enrique PR 1.89
6-2
122
270
Dec 14
1994
0 Córdoba Athletic
Tejerizo, Roberto PR 1.78
5-10
108
240
Apr 15
1988
4 Tucumán Lawn Tennis
Baldunciel, Gaspar HO 1.81
5-11
100
220
Dec 9
1996
0 Alumni
Iglesias Valdez, Santiago HO 1.77
5-10
104
230
May 22
1993
11 Uni Tucumán
Calas, Ignacio LO 2.00
6-7
120
265
Mar 18
1996
0 La Tablada
Kremer, Marcos LO/N8 2.00
6-7
112
245
1997 0 Atlético de Rosario
Larrague, Ignacio LO 2.01
6-7
120
265
Oct 25
1995
0 C.A.S.I.
Ortega, Pedro LO 1.95
6-5
108
240
Jul 30
1994
0 Universitario
Báez, Rodrigo FL 1.91
6-3
103
225
Feb 3
1989
16 Liceo Naval
Bavaro, Lautaro FL 1.88
6-2
98
215
Sep 4
1994
0 Hindú
Deheza, José FL 1.88
6-2
100
220
Apr 12
1995
0 Jockey Córdoba
Montagner, Santiago N8 1.89
6-2
100
220
Apr 18
1995
0 Alumni
Bazán, Lautaro SH 1.73
5-8
78
170
Feb 24
1996
0 Córdoba Athletic
Bertranou, Gonzalo SH 1.74
5-9
72
160
Dec 31
1993
1 Los Tordos
Miotti, Domingo FH 1.88
6-2
85
185
May 22
1996
0 Tucumán Lawn Tennis
Novillo, Juan León FH 1.77
5-10
80
175
Jul 8
1992
2 Tucumán R.C.
Cappiello, Juan CE 1.80
5-11
94
205
Mar 4
1992
3 Pucará
Estellés, Juan Pablo CE/WI 1.87
6-2
92
200
May 5
1988
1 Atlético de Rosario
Orlando, Matías CE/WI 1.83
6-0
96
210
Nov 14
1991
10 Huirapuca
Paz, Joaquín CE 1.81
5-11
91
200
Jan 11
1993
3 Córdoba Athletic
Carrió, Tomás WI 1.81
5-11
87
190
Mar 10
1989
6 Duendes
Moyano, Ramiro WI/FB 1.80
5-11
86
190
May 28
1990
6 Lince
Mercerat, Pedro FB 1.80
5-11
80
175
Feb 26
1990
0 La Plata

 


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