Bath have confirmed what was reported a week ago – they have signed Pumas loosehead prop Lucas Noguera Paz. While the official release did not specify a length of contract, it is believed to run until June 2019, which will allow him to play for the Pumas at the 2019 World Cup though the UAR has stated they will allow overseas players to participate in the event regardless. Until then, however, he will be ineligible to play for Argentina and also leaves behind Super Rugby and the Jaguares.
It’s a major blow to the Pumas and the UAR’s home-only policy. While Santiago García Botta was used as first choice loosehead at the end of the year, Noguera Paz started seven matches this year and is a veteran of 43 tests. At only 24 years of age still has his best years ahead of him. Noguera Paz follows the footsteps of the outstanding Facundo Isa in opting for a European contract over national honors.
It leaves the Pumas paper-thin on the left side of the front row. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro had been used there but with Ramiro Herrera gone to France he has reverted to his preferred tighthead spot. Aside from García Botta the only loosehead with test experience available is Roberto Tejerizo, an underwhelming option who spent the bulk of 2017 moonlighting as a reserve hooker.
Younger options include Argentina XV trio Franco Brarda, Facundo Gigena, and Nicolás Solveyra. Another short term option looks to be the switching of Felipe Arregui from tighthead to loosehead, with Gigena the most promising of the other three.
Noguera Paz follows in the footsteps of several other Argentines to wear Bath colors. Horacio Agulla, Eusebio Guiñazú, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe, Federico Mendez, and Germán Llanes have all called the recreation ground home in the professional era.