One of the more enjoyable teams to choose this year came after a fine week for Americas players in Europe. Nearly all of them made positive contributions and a few came away with Man of the Match or Dream Team selections. Players from the European competitions, the Pro D2, Spain’s top division, and the HSBC Sevens Series all earned spots in this week’s cosmopolitan team.
1 – Joe Taufete’e (Worcester) There was a real problem this week with two players fully deserving of selection at hooker. Thankfully they are both also capable of playing prop, and it’s Big Joe who has drawn the short straw. The Eagles hooker was outstanding in the Warriors’ win over Oyonnax, carrying and tackling like an extra loose forward.
2 – Agustín Costa Repetto (Colomiers) Two in a row for the former Pumas rake! This week he was stuck into the wars, emerging with a try from a maul and somehow lasting all 80 minutes in the narrow defeat to Béziers. His efforts earned him a spot in the official Pro D2 Team of the Week.
3 – Jerónimo Negrotto (Mont-de-Marsan) Somehow held up the scrum in atrocious field conditions at Stade Guy Boniface. Soldiered on for the best part of an hour in a brutal and confrontational match that saw his team coming away winners over Nevers.
4 – Rodrigo Capó Ortega (Castres) Samu Manoa put in a shift with ball in hand for Toulon but slipped up in defense a couple times too many. Capó Ortega meanwhile was less conspicuous in the loose but very active in his usual role around the fringes, leading his team to victory over Racing at Stade Pierre Fabre.
5 – Nick Civetta (Doncaster) A solid outing for Mariano Galarza in his return from injury for Gloucester. The gong goes to Civetta, however, who was part of a Doncaster side that ran roughshod over Cardiff Selects in the British & Irish Cup. Dominated the lineout and even got a line break with an offload to create a try for good measure.
6 – Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (Toulon) Another old warhorse that rode into battle on the weekend. Prominent in defense and also a primary lineout target as Les Toulonnais just held off a determined Bath side at Félix Mayol.
7 – Facundo Isa (Toulon) Came off the bench and made a massive impact with ball in hand. What a luxury to be able to call a world class player into action when the game demanded fresh legs.
8 – Robert Barbieri (Benetton Treviso) Another who wins repeat selection, this time he could not be left out. Benetton were unlucky not to upset Scarlets despite playing an hour with only 14 men with two late tries pulling the home team from the fire. Barbieri was outstanding, earning Man of the Match for his heroic carrying that earned him one try and kept his team on the front foot.
9 – Lautaro Bazán (Argentina) A nod must go to the excellent performances of the Americas teams at the Cape Town Sevens. Bazán was superb for the Pumas with his playmaking skills and goal kicking accuracy propelling them to a Cup Final bow with New Zealand.
10 – AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks) It was a great weekend for flyhalves with Benjamín Urdapilleta, Sebastián Poet, Bautista Güemes, and Nathan Hirayama all deserving a hand shake. There can be only one, however, and MacGinty’s Man of the Match effort in the win over Cardiff which included 14 points from the tee earns him the golden jersey.
11 – Jeff Hassler (Ospreys) Erased an early yellow card to score two tries and create another in a terrific performance to help stop the Saints at Franklin’s Gardens. Canadian fans are desperate to see one of their best players in a red jersey again come January.
12 – Mike Fuailefau (Canada) Francisco de la Fuente was in consideration after his try-scoring effort as a fullback for Barcelona, but once again we’ve gone the sevens route. Fuailefau was at his best in Cape Town, raising his game when Phil Berna departed with injury and nearly leading Canada to the Cup Final.
13 – Franco Velarde (Barcelona) Played on the wing but we’ve got a few of those so we’ll take him at a spot where he is equally effective. Two tries in the big win over Cisneros on the weekend. He and his made Francisco have proved inspired signings for the Barcelona side this season.
14 – Rodrigo Etchart (Argentina) Both he and Justin Douglas were named in the Cape Town Dream Team, but it was Etchart who had the last laugh in the Semi Final with a searing line break to score the game winner and put the Pumas in the final. Top marks for both players.
15 – Martín Bustos Moyano (Bayonne) Narbonne might have been better off staying at home such was the manner they were swept aside at Stade Jean Dauger. 53-0 was the final score, with Bustos Moyano scoring 18 points himself with one try, five conversions, and a penalty goal.