Super Rugby Preview: Is the honeymoon over for the Jaguares?
SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW 2019 – TEAM BY TEAM: In the fifth instalment of our 15-part build-up to the season we look at the Jaguares. It will be followed by the New Zealand and Australian conferences.
There are a new coach and a new captain.
New is not bad.
But most coaches will tell you consistency is better.
And the Jaguares have been anything but consistent.
They will have their third coach in four years.
Raúl Pérez started out, then Mario Ledesma took over last year (before being elevated to the national team) and Gonzalo Quesada is the coach for 2019.
The Jaguares have also played musical chairs with their captains.
First, there was Agustin Creevy, then Pablo Matera took over the captain’s armband and this year it will be Jeronimo de la Fuente.
After making the playoffs for the first time in 2018, the Jaguares may find the honeymoon is over.
They have also lost two of their most influential players – Juan Martín Hernández (retired) and Nicolás Sánchez (moved to Stade Francais).
Sanchez has been the puppetmaster that pulled the strings. He expertly organised the Jaguares on both attack and defence, while he also racked up an impressive 391 points in the last three years – including 21 tries. His departure will leave a massive hole.
No doubt they will again be tough to beat on their home track in Buenos Aires, but it will be interesting to see if they will be as consistent on the road.
Last year they had a four-match unbeaten tour of Australasia – beating the Rebels (25-22 in Melbourne), Brumbies (25-20, Canberra), Blues (20-13, Auckland) and Chiefs (23-19, Rotorua).
Much will depend on the captaincy of De la Fuente, but coach Gonzalo Quesada has faith in the new team leader.
“We feel that Jeronimo is one of the most capable players,” Quesada said.
“He is ideally positioned in terms of his experience and his character, not only as a player but as a person as well.”
South African Conference Placing: Fourth
Player of the Year: Santiago González Iglesias
Rookie of the Year: Lucio Sordoni
Super Rugby Placing: Ninth to 12th
In: Gaspar Baldunciel (Alumni), Santiago Carreras (Córdoba Athletic), Santiago Chocobares (Duendes), Santiago Grondona (Champagnat), Ignacio Mendy (sevens), Franco Molina (Jockey), Domingo Miotti (Tucuman), Lucas Paulos (Olivios), Lucio Sordoni (Atlético del Rosario), Mayco Vivas (Atlético del Rosario).
Out: Santiago Álvarez (Sevens), Felipe Arregui (Duendes), Franco Brarda (Tala), Felipe Ezcurra (Leicester Tigers), Nicolás Leiva (released), Benjamín Macome (released), Juan Martín Hernández (retired), Nicolás Sánchez (Stade Francais).
Squad: Javier Diaz, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Medrano, Enrique Pieretto, Lucio Sordoni, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Mayco Vivas, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Gaspar Baldunciel, Agustin Creevy, Diego Fortuny, Julian Montoya, Matias Alemanno, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lavanini, Franco Molina, Lucas Paulos, Guido Petti, Santiago Grondona, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Rodrigo Bruni, Gonzalo Bertranou, Tomas Cubelli, Martin Landajo, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Domingo Miotti, Santiago Carreras, Santiago Chocobares, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Ezcurra, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastian Cancelliere, Juan Cruz Mallia, Ramiro Moyano, Bautista Delguy, Ignacio Mendy, Joaquin Tuculet.
Best finish: Seventh (losing quarterfinalists) in 2018
Worst finish: Thirteenth in 2016
By Jan de Koning
* Don’t miss the New Zealand and Australian conferences in the coming weeks.