PORTRAIT. End of the Top 14: Santiago Arata, the safe American in great shape

the essential
The Castres midfielder has had a cannonball season finale. Almost logical for this Uruguayan, kind and humble, hardworking and confident of his qualities.

In perfect French, thanks to his studies at the French Jules-Supervielle Institute in Montevideo, dyed with a Hispanic accent, Santiago Arata, on the stretches of the Allianz Riviera, addressed a few words of thanks to his family and his wife. , which allowed him, in addition to his job, to reach the Top 14 final. “Hoping everything goes well,” he let out with a sunny smile. The sun brought him to the pitch an hour earlier thanks to his test and his performance in the semifinals against Toulouse. In short, the continuity of an exercise that the “South American” (South American in Spanish, or “South American”) ends suddenly, while holding the rope, in front of Jérémy Fernandez, to start scrum during the final against Montpellier, tomorrow.

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“He is a dog with the big ones,” says Loïc Jacquet. No, it’s adorable. The new par excellence. He talks, he calls all the time but not to give orders. And then he likes to piss us off, even if we hit him, he comes back! A worm! The second-row Olympian pulls off the big character shots from the Teros scrum half (43 selections). Arata stands out for its lightness. An endearing and pleasant personality, close to his family and those around him in general. Its deep nature facilitates contact and link tissue. “He quickly approached everyone in the team. He has this versatility to create links. We see him in Castres in the squad or in the city. The Uruguayan friends who went to see him said he was chatting with people on the street.” , raises Felipe Berchesi, opener of Uruguay and Dax.

Far from being extravagant, Arata prefers discretion and humility. Keep your feet on the ground to appreciate the little jokes of everyday life. “Sometimes he’s a little skinny,” says Berchesi. Because he’s in his own world and all of a sudden he’s getting wrapped up! “He hides his shoes from us,” says, laughing, Agustín Ormaechea, the other half scrum of the Teros, sometimes roommate of the “Santi” in the selection.

A margin for progress

Behind this little prankster hides a determined player who is sure of his strengths. “He has confidence in himself, you can see him on the pitch,” said the new Stade Niçois Ormaechea. He knows his qualities perfectly. “Think about the way you play. Feel free to grab the ball and spin, rush into small spaces. As an advantage, it has the ability to relieve all pressure, not stress, ”says Berchesi.

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If Dacquois says he sees a “more regular Santi, who understands the game better, probably a contribution from Urdapilleta and Kockott in particular,” he acknowledges that his compatriot can still progress. Element underlined by David Darricarrère, coach of the three quarters of the CO: “He is not a finished player. He brings his punch, his qualities as a fighter and his precision in decision making. But you also have to find that balance between getting into a hole or a fake hole and distributing it perfectly. We are working on it. »

It is not a problem for the 25-year-old player, who wants to “learn and progress” according to Ormaechea, with whom he exchanges regularly during the periods he spends with Los Teros. “Be careful, if we give him a few years … smiles Jacquet, referring to the succession of Rory Kockott. Well, at the same time he is in a good school. I hope for him that he manages to do the same things, so that he can be proud of his career. Against the MHR, the “South American” will have the opportunity to make a first part of this path.

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