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The extraordinary lengths Newcastle are going to preparing Pedro Rubiolo

By Chris Jones
Pedro Rubiolo of Newcastle Falcons in action during the European Challenge Cup match between Newcastle Falcons and Connacht Rugby at Kingston Park, Newcastle on Saturday 21st January 2023. (Photo by Chris Lishman/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Newcastle Falcons are set to launch Argentina international forward Pedro Rubiolo’s Premiership career against Saracens and the club’s coaching team have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the hard running forward can understand the game plan.

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Rubiolo who can play in the back row or second row, has a two-and-a-half year deal and has joined fellow Pumas Matias Orlando, Mateo Carreras and Matias Moroni at Kingston Park. While the other three Pumas have been helping Rubiolo find a flat and translate for him, Dave Walder, the head coach has enrolled his fellow coaches into a Spanish course to speed up his new signing’s integration in the Premiership squad.

Rubiolo, who made his Test debut at 19 against South Africa last September, is set to feature at league leaders Saracens next weekend and Walder’s aim is to be able to send messages onto the pitch in Spanish from the coaches rather than rely on the other Pumas to do that job.

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The lessons are being given by Kathleen McLaughlin, a Spanish teacher at Gosforth Academy, who is also Rubiolo’s English tutor. Walder told RugbyPass: “We threw Pedro straight into things and he is a man of few words and I don’t know if that is the language barrier or him as a person and for a 20-year-old he is a physical specimen. I think people will be really excited when they see what he can do.

“One of our coaches said “Pedro as learning English why don’t we learn Spanish and understand what he is going through?” Then our team manager announced he has done Spanish A level and so he is further along in the class and didn’t tell us that until he had won the first quiz.

“Micky Ward (forwards coach) is very impressive and we have done it to make Pedro feel welcome and it is also a useful tool for us to have. We are going to continue with the weekly lessons in the clubhouse. One of our most recent lessons was teaching us white and red wine and other drinks rather than rugby terms and so we need to get our teacher back on track.

“As coaches we really enjoy the lessons and at the moment we are at the basic stage and the aim is to then move onto specific rugby phrases like “break down” and “offside”. The aim is being able to speak to Pedro in the moment in Spanish. It would be nice to get to the stage where I can drop some keywords in messages at half-time.

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“I must admit the other Argentine lads initially laughed, but they are appreciating the effort although the other three have good English considering the time they have been in the country. This is a small gesture to them.

“Anything we can do can make a huge difference and when I went to play in Japan and I know how hard it can be to move to a different country and different language.”

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