Rugby in the professional ranks was hard to come by over the past week so it’s the URBA Top 12 where we cast our eye, plucking nine players from the top domestic club competition in Argentina. A few standouts from Argentina’s friendly against Toulon make the cut and a solitary North American from a pre-season game in France.
1 – Ricardo Macchiavello (SIC) It was a good day for Hindu’s Agustín Capurro in the loose, scoring two tries, but in the scrum he was second best to Eduardo Bello. Macchiavello, on the other hand, performed his core role superbly, winning two penalty tries by overwhelming the CUBA front row.
2 – Francisco Piccinini (SIC) Alongside his teammate Macchiavello and tighthead Marcos Gatica, the San Isidro front row showed complete dominance over a formidable unit that included Brazilian captain Yan Rosetti. Excellent in the set piece as he led his team to an overwhelming win over the previously undefeated CUBA side.
3 – Benjamín Espinal (Belgrano) Returns from a stint in the pink jersey of Paris to restore power to the Belgrano scrum. Rock solid in his primary role and even scored a vital try late in the second half to secure a one-point win over CASI.
4 – Guillermo Roan (La Plata) Another back from Europe, the former Pumas prop has returned from Italy but taken on a different role with La Plata. At 1.93m (6’4″) he has switched to the second row where his significant bulk has proved highly useful both in the engine room and in the tight-loose.
5 – Marcos Kremer (Argentina XV) Performed well against visiting Toulon as he continues his march up the depth charts. Now set to challenge for a role in the Rugby Championship match day squads.
6 – Rodrigo Bruni (Argentina XV) Back-to-back efforts have seen the San Luis man invited to train with the Pumas. Prefers the No 8 position where his powerful running is most effective but did well enough on the flank against Toulon.
7 – Facundo Isa (Toulon) Like Bruni is at his best at the back of the scrum but is more than useful on the side as well. Crashed about the pitch and looks in very good shape heading into his first full Top 14 campaign with his new club.
8 – Christian Ostberg (Aurillac) Relished his chance to run out as an eightman against Brive, also a rare chance to test himself against a Top 14 side. With his injury worries seemingly behind him could come into Eagles contention sooner than later.
9 – Felipe Ezcurra (Argentina XV) Under severe pressure for his spot in the Argentine setup, he upped his game with his best performance of the year against Toulon. Distributed well and took his options, even making a couple line breaks.
10 – Santiago Fernández (Hindú) Classy veteran looks pleased to be back in his home club’s colors after a sterling professional career in France. Notched 16 points with the boot in the win over Atlético including a perfect 5 for 5 on conversions.
11 – Tomás Filipuzzi (Belgrano) One of the best-kept secrets in the URBA divisions, the strapping winger is an expert marksman who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Bagged a hat-trick against CASI. Yet to see international recognition of any kind.
12 – Santiago Álvarez (CASI) Played a leadership role for his team in a tight battle that finished in the narrowest of defeats. Scored a try and added his typical hard-nosed defense.
13 – Tomás Malanos (Atlético del Rosario) The 20-year-old speedster showed off his footwork in a tough match against Hindú, racing through the line to finish off a swift attacking move. One to keep an eye on for future international honors, though the wing seems a more likely spot given his relative lack of size.
14 – Sebastián Cancelliere (Argentina XV) One of the in-form players in Argentine rugby, he oozes class whether at scrumhalf or on the wing. Touched down once and never showed a hint of worry against the fully professional Toulon outfit.
15 – Bautista Delguy (Pucará) The Golden Boy can do no wrong. With his team largely on the back foot, it was up to the youngster to provide inspiration and that he did, scorching over for one try and breaking tackles at will. Ended the game in memorable fashion with a long-range drop goal to steal an unlikely victory. With so much talent the only question now is when he will crack the Pumas, not if.