European giants RC Toulon have completed a major coup with the signing of Argentina star Facundo Isa. The 23-year-old no8 had an enormous year for the Pumas in 2016, emerging as a one of the world’s premier loose forwards and leading all players in carries and metres gained during the 2016 Rugby Championship. Isa has signed a two-year deal with the Top 14 club, having previously spent the 2013-14 season in their academy and making one senior appearance off the bench against Biarritz.
The move means that Isa will not be considered for Los Jaguares in Super Rugby, with the UAR staying consistent with their policy of not selecting European-based players. Third-choice hooker Facundo Bosch was also removed from the Jaguares squad after signing for Agen. It will now be left to veterans Leonardo Senatore and Juan Manuel Leguizamón – the latter currently injured – to fill the void, with 21-year-old Santiago Portillo now facing greater expectations in his first season as a full-time professional.
More importantly for Argentina fans, barring a drastic change in policy Isa will now be unavailable for Pumas selection for the duration of his contract. It has been reported that Isa held talks with the UAR in an effort to change their stance, but that looks unlikely to change in the immediate future. Should the policy remain unchanged, there remains a glimmer of hope that Isa could return in time for the 2019 World Cup, with his contract ending in June of that year. Just the same, Argentine fans will now have to settle for a Pumas side that is undeniably short of ideal.