As we enter a World Cup year Mike Stanton takes a look at some of the best young players that could feature at the 2015 Rugby World Cup: Lucas Noguera Paz
Rugby World Cups are the pinnacle of world rugby. They offer a chance for players to get their name etched into rugby folklore. Lomu, Campese, Wilkinson, these are just some of the names of players who will never be forgotten not only for their impact on rugby but most notable for their roles in a World Cup.
The World Cup is also an incredible opportunity for players to show the world what they have. With the tournament comes the World’s media, the sport comes under the focus of all sport lovers and provides a chance for young players to book their place on the international circuit of years to come.
In these articles I will hope to pick out some young players for whom the 2015 Rugby World Cup could be their chance to stamp their authority on the game and secure their place in their national side’s starting line-ups.
• Loose Head Prop – Lucas Noguera Paz (Argentina)
Argentina are the perennial crowd favourites at World Cups in recent times. The South American attacking style of rugby combined with serious firepower up front and the slight underdog status against the bigger sides create a side that all rugby fans cant help but get behind. Take 2007 for instance; who can forget their heroics in beating the hosts France not once, but twice. The opening game of the tournament saw Les Blues go down to the feisty Pumas, only for Argentina to repeat the feat in the Bronze Medal final.
That tournament in itself can be seen as a coming of age for Argentinian rugby as they announced their presence to the world. Recent changes in the structure to the international calendars have seen Argentina get regular game time against the some of the World’s best sides and for the Pumas the 2015 tournament offers a chance to put this experience into practice and cause upsets one again.
In a side that can put in some incredible forward displays, strength in depth up front could prove pivotal for the Pumas. A World Cup campaign is a gruelling one, in the pool stages alone see each side play four games in quick succession and as a result Argentina will need younger players who can step up.
One such player is Lucas Noguera Paz. At just 21 years old the young loose head was a key part of the Pumas 2014 campaign, making his debut and going on to represent his country eleven times out of a possible fourteen games that season.
2014 was one of the Pumas most successful campaigns to date where they picked up wins over European giants such as France and recorded their first win in the Rugby Championship by beating the Wallabies.
His test debut came against Uruguay in May where he started for the Pumas. With a fine debut, capped off by a try, he burst onto the international scene and backed it up with a string of good performances, including featuring in the wins over Italy and France.
Argentina also beat Australia last year as well as recording big wins over Uruguay and Chile and running South Africa, Scotland and Ireland close, 2014 was certainly a statement of intent from Argentina. And now with England 2015 just around the corner with Argentina facing New Zealand, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia in the pool stages their chances of qualify past the group stages look promising.
England 2015 comes at a perfect time for Argentina and for their young prop learning from the experience of Marcos Ayerza and Co. This year’s World Cup could provide the platform for Argentina to progress through to the closing stages of a World Cup once again, and for Lucas Noguera Paz, an opportunity to move away form being the understudy and claim the starting spot for his own.