Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe
Major teams: Sale, ToulonCountry: Argentina Test span: 2004-15Argentina caps: 71 (69 starts)Test points: 25 (5T)
A treble champion of Europe and part of the backbone of Toulon’s star-studded team for six years, Juan Martin Fernández Lobbe is one of Argentina’s greatest players.
Versatile enough to have played Test rugby in all three back-row positions, and influential enough to have led his country in their first season in the Rugby Championship, this star from Buenos Aires has helped Argentina earn and retain their seat at rugby’s top table.
Fernandez Lobbe played amateur rugby with Liceo Naval in Argentina and completed an engineering degree before moving to England to turn professional with Sale Sharks in 2006, when he was 24. He captained Sale in 2008-09 before he was snapped up by Toulon, with whom he has won the European Cup in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
After playing for Argentina Sevens, Fernandez Lobbe won his first Test cap in 2004, against Uruguay, following his older brother Ignacio into the Pumas squad. Ignacio retired from Test rugby after the 2007 World Cup with 66 caps – a mark his younger brother overhauled before his retirement from Test rugby after the World Cup.
A tough operator at the breakdown and a powerful defender, Juan Martin reads the game brilliantly and can pop up in try-scoring positions, bagging three in consecutive Tests in 2005-06, against Samoa and Wales (twice).
Fernandez Lobbe was a key figure in the Argentina team that finished third at the 2007 World Cup – by far and away the Pumas’ finest hour.
He led Argentina for the first time in 2008, continued as captain in 2009 while Felipe Contepomi was injured, and was at the helm again for the first two Rugby Championship campaigns in 2012 and 2013. In 2009 the then Scotland coach Andy Robinson called Fernandez Lobbe “the standout No 8 in the world” and his retirement will leave a big hole in the Pumas squad.
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