Juan Pablo Socino: Guinness PRO14 Fun To Watch And Play

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Starting a regular column for FloSports is both an honor and a challenge; the Guinness PRO14 is where I ply my trade and I am delighted to be able to, in the coming weeks, bring you insights into a league that has some of the best players in the world and is both exciting and enjoyable to play and, for you, to watch.

Watch The Guinness PRO14 Every Week On FloRugby In Select Markets

I was born in Argentina, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires where I’ve played for Los Matreros all my life. Clubs are a crucial part of our rugby life in Argentina and Los Matreros is where I belong and where I go back to when I go home.

Growing up, I was fortunate to be selected for Argentina U19 and U20, playing with current internationals Martín Landajo, Nicolás Sánchez and Juan Figallo. Soon after, I was invited to play club rugby in Spain and never looked back, playing for UE Santboiana in Barcelona, Spain, Tonmawr, in Port Talbot, in the Welsh Premiership, French club Dax, then moving to England to play for Rotherham Titans and Nottingham. 

Having gone back home to play for my club, I was selected for Jaguares, then the second Argentine team, playing in the Nations Cup in Romania and soon was asked back to Rotherham; after a very good season, I joined Premiership club Newcastle Falcons in 2014.

That opened the doors to my highest honor, which was to play for Los Pumas in two Rugby Championship games and attend the Rugby World Cup, all in 2015. That was an incredible experience; one that left me with an appetite for more. Unfortunately, the rules in my country state that overseas players are ineligible for the national team, although that is changing and I’d love to be involved again.

To do that, I must perform at the highest level with Edinburgh Rugby, the team I joined this season and for the following two years.

In coming to this great city, I must admit I didn’t know much about the Guinness PRO14, but I found a great coaching staff, led by an ambitious Richard Cockerill. The goal is to get Edinburgh Rugby up where it belongs.

The Guinness PRO14 is an extremely tough competition with very good teams filled with internationals. You look at Leinster and they are the defending European champions; the Welsh teams are tough as nails, and the Italians teams have players that regularly play for the Azzurri.

The two Scottish teams form the basis for the national team and competition is huge. In my club, some sixteen players are involved in the November test matches, so having depth in the squad is crucial.

I play at flyhalf and inside center, and competition in those places is very intense. But it's a positive competition, which helps us get the best out of each other.

The same happens when we play games. The standard is very high, with no relegation, teams try, with their own different national identities, to play attractive rugby, and that means games are enjoyable to watch and play.

After a short break due to the November internationals, we will be back playing next Saturday, when we travel to play the Newport Dragons - a tough, tough assignment!

I encourage you to watch the Guinness PRO14 as you will find some wonderful rugby!

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Autumn Nations Cup Stock Report

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You could be forgiven for thinking that the Northern hemisphere teams decided to play another Six Nations tournament in 2020, and added Georgia, perhaps on a trial basis. But no! 

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Top 15 Players Of Autumn Nations Cup

England

The Autumn Nations Cup wasn’t just a measuring stick for international teams, but also a proving ground for players looking to either break into the national team or reestablish their place in it. For the four British Isles, it was also an audition for Warren Gatland’s 2021 British & Irish Lions team which heads to South Africa next summer. 

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Top 5 Games From Autumn Nations Cup

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Now that it's over, it's all about the numbers.

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Autumn Nations Cup Notebook: Fijian Flair Shows Up & Champions Crowned

England

If the first three rounds of the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup were labeled as slow, or too kick-heavy, the final weekend was anything but. 

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England Prevails As Autumn Nations Cup Champs

Championship Replay: England vs France

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It was supposed to be a cakewalk. It was supposed to be business as usual for Eddie Jones’ team in front of 2,000 spectators at Twickenham. 

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How to Watch Autumn Nations Cup: Wales vs Italy

Wales vs Italy

Italy and Wales will face off for fifth place as they look to finish off their Autumn Nations Cup run with a win. 

How to Watch Autumn Nations Cup: Ireland vs Scotland

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Both teams had some decent showings in pool play. Ireland's lone loss came to championship contender England in the second round in a hard fought contest. They will look to finish out the Autumn Nations Cup on a good note with a win over Scotland.