The exodus from Argentine rugby continues. With the certainty that Jaguares will no longer be part of Super Rugby – a version of that franchise will play the South American Super League instead of Ceibos – the players who have worn the orange jersey in recent seasons continue to seek new horizons. The last to confirm his departure was Julian Montoya, who terminated his contract with the UAR and was presented this Wednesday as a new member of Leicester from England.
“I am very excited about this new adventure. I love the Premiership, it is one of the best competitions in the world, and this is a club with a lot of history,” said the 27-year-old hooker, who will play for the English team alongside his compatriots Thomas Lavanini, Matías Moroni, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla and Facundo Gigena.
“Julian is a world-class forward, with an impressive rugby record, who will help the team a lot upstairs. He is a tough, hard-working and level-headed hooker. We are confident that he will be a strong inclusion in our front row for the Tigers. He is the kind of character we want in our club, “he commented Steve Borthwick, your new coach.
Montoya already has a long international journey as part of Los Pumas and Jaguares. He made his debut in 2004 with the Argentine national team in a match against Uruguay and has played 63 matches and scored nine tries with the light blue and white jersey, including the 2015 World Cups in England and Japan 2019.
Last year, he was one of the key pieces in the team that played the Three Nations 2020 -a reduced version of the Rugby Championship, after the departure from South Africa due to the pandemic- and achieved the historic triumph against the All Blacks.
He joined Jaguares in 2016 and was one of the squad members that achieved the unforgettable Super Rugby runner-up in 2019, after losing the final with Crusaders.
After a 2020 complicated by the health crisis, which ended up marking the end of the franchise tournament in the southern hemisphere, Montoya decided to bet on a change, like many of his colleagues.
Montoya played two World Cups with Los Pumas, England 2015 and Japan 2019. Photo German Garcia Adrasti / Special Envoy to Japan
Is that before the inactivity of Jaguares last year due to the coronavirus, the Argentine Rugby Union gave the green light to the players to join other clubs. It is worth remembering that although in our country the stoppage was total, the Australian and New Zealand franchises played their own version of Super Rugby and in mid-2020 the action of the European leagues began to resume.
Thus, little by little, the UAR was terminating contracts and Jaguares was disarmed. Today, of the 41 players that made up the squad presented by the franchise at the beginning of last year to play Super Rugby, only 13 continue to be linked to the Argentine union. And there are several that could be leaving soon.
One of the first to assemble the suitcases was the coach Gonzalo Quesada, who returned to the Stade Français.
In addition to Montoya, Díaz Bonilla and Moroni, teammates in Leicester, the players who went abroad are Matías Alemanno and Santiago Carreras (Gloucester), Rodrigo Bruni (Vannes), Ignacio Calas and Lucas Sordoni (Rebels), Agustín Creevy (London Irish) , Santiago Grondona, Matías Orlando and Mateo Carreras (Newcastle), Marcos Kremer (Stade Français), Tomás Lezana, Tomás Cubelli, Domingo Miotti and Santiago Medrano (Western Force), Santiago Montagner (Stade Montois), Lucas Paulos (Brive), Guido Petti and Bautista Delguy (Bordeaux), Joel Sclavi (La Rochelle), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Bristol), Emiliano Boffelli (Racing 92), Jerónimo De La Fuente (Perpignan), Juan Cruz Mallía (Toulouse), Lucas Mensa (Valence Romans) and Joaquín Tuculet (Toronto Arrows).
Montoya was part of the Argentine squad in the Three Nations 2020. Photo David Gra / AFP
Santiago Socino Sounds like a possible reinforcement for Rebels, one of the Australian Super Rugby franchises. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, Blues, one of the New Zealand teams in that tournament, could be interested in adding to Santiago Chocobares. Mayco Vivas and Juan Pablo Zeiss They would also be studying options to continue their careers in foreign leagues.
Thus, of that Jaguares 2020 squad, those who are still linked to the UAR and, at least for the moment, do not seem to have any chances or intentions to leave are Javier Ortega Desio, Felipe Ezcurra, Gonzalo Bertranou, Sebastián Cancelliere, Francisco Gorrisen, Juan Bautista Pedemonte, Tomás Albornoz, Juan Pablo Castro and Javier Díaz.
Several of them would play the South American Super League with Jaguares XV, which although it seems the only possibility of competition that the UAR will have, it is a tournament of a much lower level against countries that are far below Argentine rugby.
The exodus of players seems to have no end. And the dream of having a competitive team at the highest level in the world, which began back in 2016 with the inclusion of Jaguares in Super Rugby for the first time and which was further enlivened after that historic runner-up in 2019, is now only part of the Memorie.