Marcelo Bosch is calling on Argentina’s rugby chiefs to end the confusion over European based players by confirming the selection of Saracens teammate Juan Figallo and Agen hooker Facundo Bosch is the start of an open door policy to ensure the Pumas mount a significant challenge at next year’s World Cup where they are in the same pool as England and France.
Bosch believes the Pumas need new ideas and competition for places in the build-up to next year’s World Cup in Japan and after 17 defeats in their last 19 tests they are no longer one of the most dangerous teams in the sport.
Following the 34-21 Rugby Championship loss to South Africa the Pumas called up hooker Bosch to boost their front row options for the return match in Mendoza on Saturday.
Figallo expected to fly back for the start of Saracens Gallagher Premiership campaign after the second Boks match having been drafted into the side for the opening Championship clash.
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Crucially, South Africa have been boosted by the inclusion of Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) and Willie Le Roux (Wasps) who have been brought back into the squad despite playing in Europe and Australia have also relaxed their rule on players operating abroad in the run-up to the World Cup.
The Argentine Rugby Union changed their ruling earlier this year to give the Pumas the ability to bring in their European exiles, but Bosch, the 34 cap Saracens centre, insists a “grey area” remains over his Union’s stance despite the arrival of new coach Mario Ledesma. The home-based Jaguares Super rugby squad remains the dominant factor in the selection of the Pumas but Bosch is adamant the more than 20 European based players operating in the Top 14, Premiership and Pro14 must be considered by Ledesma.
Besides France and England, the Pumas will face USA and Tonga at the World Cup and could boost their chances by using European based players including, Bosch, Figallo, Facundo Isa (Toulon), Santiago Cordero(Exeter), Ramiro Herrera (Stade Francais), Juan Imhoff (Racing), Patricio Fernandez (Clermont) and Lucas Noguera Paz(Bath).
Bosch said: “It seems that the rule is that the door is open but I don’t really know if the coach can call anyone he wants back. There is a grey area we need clarification.
“The new board that was elected in February and the ARU had the priority to change the rule and allow the coach to choose his players but nothing changes for the June tests and the results weren’t good and then there was a change of coach. Ledesma recognised they lacked depth in the front row and I believe the call up for Juan Figallo was an exception.
“I thought that if results before weren’t good they would call up European players but it didn’t happen in June when there were really poor performances. Maybe the results from this Rugby Championship will determine what they do in the future. It is really hard to say.
“Other countries have made changes to bring back players from Europe and while I could understand the rule that was made after the 2015 World Cup by Argentina to keep young players at home, you could have reached some kind of compromise for those players already in Europe.”
Bosch is adamant the injection of players operating with high profile teams in top European leagues can only be positive as the Jaguares players swap their Super rugby jerseys for the Pumas kit which means the same squad is doing both demanding jobs.
“The players in Europe still have a strong desire to play test rugby” added Bosch. “There are very good players who could add value to the team and increase competition for places increase the options for the coach. The arrival of Figallo, it was reported, had brought a breath of fresh air to the squad for the South Africa game and it must be tough for the same players being used all year.”
“For me, if you open the door it would add freshness and energy to the Pumas and the Jaguares players would know they are now competing for places against European based players. That competition will lift the performance of the team.”
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