Carizza paying a high price for putting his country first


Argentina’s best players are sacrificing well paid and secure lifestyles to represent their country. Most Fijians are doing the exact opposite.

The idea of a polished Test lock like Manuel Carizza – or the long line of athletic backs, flankers and frontrow warriors – being recruited and nurtured by French clubs is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Unless they are willing to turn their back on Los Pumas.

“We are not going to look at recruiting Argentinian players and I think that is the way with most of the other French clubs. They are off the radar,” said Biarritz assistant coach Jack Isaacs last month.

Carizza is an example of how Argentina’s rise as a world force has come at a heavy price.

Last season’s contract renegotiation with Biarritz failed when the 28-year-old confirmed his intention to join the national squad for the inaugural Rugby Championship. The club he had served since turning professional were unwilling to offer a new deal because they couldn’t justify paying him wages when they would not see him during their entire pre-season, August or November.

“Yes, it was a tough decision to take because I am used to stability after seven years in Biarritz,” said Carizza yesterday.

“I had an apartment there, my car, pretty much my life over there so it was a risk to say no to them but I wanted to play the Rugby Championship.”

After the tournament Carizza returned home to Rosario and the amateur Jockey Club, but moved back to France when Racing Metro 92 snapped him up for the rest of this season, landing a quality secondrow on the cheap.

“I signed a medical joker until the end of the season. I will be in the same position next June that I was in five months ago. It will be tough.”

That, unfortunately, is the way of it and the IRB’s Regulation 9 can do very little about it, just like the governing body are unable to assist Fijian attempts to select their best players.

The natural alternative is for Argentina’s brightest talent to join Super Rugby franchises in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

“Yes, it is going to be tough for players in their last year of contract because many (European) clubs will say no,” Carizza continued. Maybe it is time to think that the south(ern hemisphere) is the best opportunity for us.”

So was it worth it?

“Listen, I had a great moment with the Argentina team. I had an opportunity to play in the best international tournament, so I am very happy with my decision. It is historic for us to be in an annual tournament like the Rugby Championship.”

But he may be transformed into a mercenary, hunting his next pay cheque wherever it is available – all because he loves playing for his country. It is the major hindrance to rugby becoming a truly global sport.

Meanwhile, Juan Martin Hernandez was unable to fully train yesterday in UCD yesterday due to a thigh strain. However, should Hernandez recover he is expected to line out at fullback with Nicolas Sanchez retained at outhalf. Regular fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino has returned to Montpelier due to a prearranged agreement with the French club regarding the release of Argentinian players.

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