World-class Emiliano Boffelli on brink of something special with Argentina but Edinburgh fans will need to be patient
Argentina have never won the Rugby Championship. In fact, they have picked up the wooden spoon in all but one of the nine editions of the tournament they joined in 2012.
Their one flirtation with mid-table respectability came in 2015 when they finished third, defeating South Africa for the first time and consigning the Springboks to bottom place.
Now, at the halfway point in this season’s competition, they find themselves atop the table, looking down with some satisfaction on the three traditional Southern Hemisphere super powers.
The Pumas’ historic 25-18 win over New Zealand in Christchurch last weekend was founded on superb defence, iron-clad discipline and a flawless kicking display from Emiliano Boffelli.
Twenty of Argentina’s points came from the boot of the Edinburgh winger whose performance had his club coach purring this week. The only pity for Mike Blair is that he won’t have the use of Boffelli until October at the earliest.
The 27-year-old’s form comes as no surprise to Blair who was talking him up before he had even played for Edinburgh.
“He’s an outstanding, world-class player,” he said ahead of Boffelli’s debut against the Dragons last November. “He’s very good under the high ball. He moves really well and has an excellent off-loading game as well.”
The coach wasn’t wrong. The man who has come to be known in the Edinburgh changing room as King Boff scored eight tries in 17 appearances and weighed in with 165 points over the course of a campaign he joined two months late.
Boffelli’s elan makes him integral to the way Edinburgh want to play and his contribution was rightly recognised by his team-mates who voted him the club’s Players’ Player of the Season. Anyone who was at the end of season bash would have seen what the award meant to the Argentina wing who genuinely seems to have fallen in love with the club. Good news for Blair and co because his performances for the Pumas are sure to have piqued the interest of some of Europe’s top clubs.
The SRU is notoriously reluctant to reveal the length of players’ contracts but it is believed Boffelli still has another two years left on his current deal. He has also played in France before and his time with Racing 92 was not particularly happy.
Edinburgh seems like a good fit and while Blair has no requirement to “manage him” in terms of game-time in the way he must with the club’s Scotland players, the coach knows he will benefit from a sensible schedule. “You don’t want to burn them out completely by November,” he said this week.
Argentina have three tough games left in the Rugby Championship, kicking off with another Test against the All Blacks, on Saturday in Hamilton. They then complete their programme with home and away matches against South Africa, with the final game taking place in Durban on September 24.
Blair hopes to have Boffelli available in October but the player will return to international duty in November when Argentina come to the UK to face England, Wales and Scotland.
The hope for Edinburgh is that their star turn comes through unscathed and ready to play his part as the capital club go full tilt at the URC and make their return to the Champions Cup.
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