Tomas Cubelli brings his experience to Miami

Tomas Cubelli brings his experience to Miami

Tomas Cubelli was the Miami Sharks’ first player signing. Almost a year after the announcement, the 34-year-old is now in Florida preparing for the team’s debut Major League Rugby season.

Miami Sharks host the Chicago Hounds at DRV PNK Stadium, the Argentina international is fresh from the training field and just a few weeks into getting to know his new teammates.

Bringing with him over 90 matches of Test match experience for Los Pumas, Cubelli is by far and away the most experienced player in the Sharks squad, the scrum-half just months removed from playing at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, his third appearance at the tournament. 

Over a career that has seen the half-back play domestically on four continents to date, representing the Western Force and Brumbies in Australia, the Pampas XV in South Africa, Biarritz in France and the Jaguares in his native South America.

His debut for the Sharks will see Cubelli play professional club rugby on a fifth continent, something which has been a long-held ambition.

“I have been watching MLR for the last couple of years, and I think it is a tournament that is growing season by season,” Cubelli said.

“I was always saying I would like to go to America and try over here. With Miami Sharks and everything happening around the team, I jumped into this project.

“Hopefully, we can make it grow fast here in Miami.”

There will be a distinctly Latin American feel to the Miami Sharks. In many ways, this represents the city that the team will call home, where some 70 percent of the population are of Hispanic origin.

Cubelli is part of this and was joined in Miami by Uruguay internationals Reinaldo Piussi, Manuel Arado, Felipe Etcheverry, and Tomas Inciarte, who similarly represented their country at the Rugby World Cup in France last fall.

Coached by Argentine, Jose Pellicena, who has previously coached Argentina U20 and served as an assistant coach with the Jaguares in Super Rugby, the side may well even play the free-flowing and expansive style of rugby that has become associated with Los Pumas and Los Teros.

“It would be interesting to show a bit of a flavor of what South American rugby can do in the United States,” Cubelli said. “It will be interesting to show a bit of that.

“There are some South American players, coaches, and owners, but this is America, and most of the team will be American, so the real challenge will be the culture and bringing this flavor to the league as well.”

One of Argentina’s all-time best rugby players, Cubelli, will be near one of his country’s all-time soccer players.

Training at the Florida Blue Training Center, home of Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF, the side will be in close proximity to Lionel Messi, who completed his own move to the Sunshine State in 2023.

“He is the greatest sportsman of all time for me,” Cubelli said. 

“Maybe because I am Argentinian, maybe because the World Cup is so recent, but he is a big idol and a big role model for all of us Argentinians.

“To be able to be in the same environment is unreal. Hopefully, he can approach rugby and see what rugby has to offer.”

At the time of writing, there is just over a month to go until the Miami Sharks make their MLR bow.

Hosting the Chicago Hounds, the game will see Miami’s first-ever professional rugby game being hosted in the state, with Cubelli likely in the middle of it all, orchestrating play against a side that experienced their debut season 12 months prior.

“I think it will be a massive thing here in Miami. It will be the first professional rugby game here, so (I am) excited to be a part of that.

“It is something I will look forward to with my family, and I will remember for my life. So, looking forward to March 3rd.” 

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