Some 300km north of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires sits the district of Santa Fe, home to Rosario, the third largest city in the country. As well as being a cultural hot bed, the city is also very passionate about Rugby and home to four big club sides that regularly compete for national titles. It was this rugby fever that led to the city being awarded a key test fixture in the newly expanded Southern Hemisphere rugby tournament.
This fixture, on October 6th, is a hugely important date in the diary of giant lock Manuel ‘Manucho’ Carizza. The PUMA athlete was born in Rosario some 27 years ago and it was while playing in the city as a he gained the first of his 23 international caps before being snapped up by his current Basque club side in 2005. Having gone on to prove himself as a key member of his International team he easily made the squad for the last World Cup. A tournament in which he played in all four of his countries key attritional games, clocking up an astonishing 9.3 tackles per game average, which is huge for an International lock.
Following an outstanding tournament he will look to cement his place in the national team ahead of the emotional homecoming game in the autumn. And who would bet against the highly competitive and inspirational second row making that match? Having won the French club title in his debut season with his Basque club side, he snatched it up again in 2006 whilst narrowly missing out in the final of the European Cup that same year. Since then his club have been a mainstay in the French title race and a solid presence in Europe, unfortunately missing out again in the all French final of 2010.
This season has seen the Basque giants struggle, yet his side remain in with a good shout of the quarter finals in Europe and recent good league form has steadied the ship somewhat on the domestic front. There’s no co-incidence this resurgence has been in tandem with Carizza’s return to full fitness following an early season arm injury. And when fit he is a phenomenal athlete. Standing at over two metres tall and weighing in at 120kg he has all the physical tools to cause chaos in both the set pieces and in the loose. Look forward to Manuel Carizza raising his game even more in 2012 as the boy from Rosario looks to return home as a true giant of Argentine rugby.