Leguizamon set for fourth Rugby World Cup

An Argentina squad laden with players who have come through the U20 Championship pathway has been named for Rugby World Cup 2019, while Juan Manuel Leguizamon will join the exalted company of three Los Pumas legends by competing at a fourth tournament.

Juan Manuel Leguizamon (pictured) is set to appear in a fourth Rugby World Cup after being named in Mario Ledesma’s 31-man squad for the tournament in Japan.

The number eight will be in esteemed company with current head coach Ledesma and fellow Los Pumas greats, Felipe Contepomi and Agustín Pichot, all having graced the game’s greatest stage on four occasions.

In addition, he could become Argentina’s most-capped player at the tournament as his tally of 86 caps is only one behind record-holder Contepomi. Competition for that honour will come from former captain and hooker Agustin Creevy, who has only made one appearance fewer and is a key part of a squad boasting more than 1,100 caps in total.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, winger/full-back Santiago Carreras and centre Lucas Mensa have made the cut having only made their Los Pumas debuts last Saturday against South Africa, while prop Mayco Vivas is the youngest player at only 21. 

Both Carreras and Vivas are part of a 24-strong contingent of players within the squad to have graduated from the World Rugby U20 Championship to play test rugby. Among them is second-row Guido Petti, who is set to win his 50th cap in Japan and become the 10th graduate from Argentina with a half-century of caps to their name or more.

World Cup bolter

One eye-catching inclusion is that of Santiago Socino, the dynamic hooker and brother of Los Pumas centre Juan Pablo, just over two years after he was playing semi-pro rugby in the third tier of English club rugby.

A move to Super Rugby finalists Los Jaguares after a successful spell with Newcastle Falcons in the English Premiership led to him winning his first cap in this year's Rugby Championship. Jaguares team-mates Matías Alemanno, Bautista Delguy and Joaquín Tuculet join him on the plane despite an injury-disrupted season.

Understandably Los Jaguares players make up a large proportion of the 31-man squad although there is still room for overseas-based stars playing in Europe, such as record points scorer Nicolás Sánchez, Juan Figallo and Benjamín Urdapilleta.

"We always said that we would take the best and that players based overseas would add value, but that the squad would have players that added value both on and off the field," said Ledesma. "We also said that they had to be in the 23 players for the first team – if not, then we shouldn’t select them.

"From day one, we said we’d give priority to the players based in Argentina. That was our selection criteria and it was very clear for everybody. Despite this, the moment of deciding the squad was very difficult.

"For those players not selected, it is about many years of hard work and a dream that breaks up. We were late to the announcement because we wanted to explain to each one of those that were not selected why we didn’t choose them. And tell them that they are one injury away, so despite the hurt, we want them available."

The squad will travel to Sydney, Australia, on 30 August where they will continue their preparations and play a friendly with the Randwick Club a week later. On 10 September, they will arrive at J Village, Los Pumas' first Rugby World Cup training facility, in Fukushima, to begin their stay in Japan and focus on their tournament opener against France in Tokyo on 21 September.

Afterwards, Los Pumas will continue their Pool C fixtures with a match against Tonga in Osaka on 28 September before returning to Tokyo to face England a week later. They will conclude the pool stages in Kumagaya with a match against the USA on 9 October.

Argentina RWC 2019 squad

Forwards: Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo, Mayco Vivas, Agustin Creevy, Julian Montoya, Santiago Socino, Juan Figallo, Santiago Medrano, Enrique Pieretto, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lezana, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

Backs: Tomas Cubelli, Felipe Ezcurra, Nicolas Sanchez, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Lucan Mensa, Juan Cruz Mallia, Ramiro Moyano, Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli, Joaquin Tuculet.