Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara earned the rugby nom de guerre ‘fuser’ because of his fierce tackling and Argentina’s World Cup team are keeping up his revolutionary style, though their nicknames are not so intimidating.
The Pumas, who have opened some eyes at the World Cup with their expansive attacking play, go into their semi-final against Australia at Twickenham on Sunday with a coach known as “Egg” and a star kicker called “Puppy”.
Winger Santiago Cordero goes under the cuddly name of “Fluff.”
The Spanish language is famous for inventiveness in creating affectionate names, but Australia – who tend to the more obvious like Izzy (Israel Folau), Poey (David Pocock) and Gits (Matt Giteau) – would be making a mistake if they took them at face value.
At an Argentinian press conference this week one player responded to a question by saying “ask Egg.”
“Who’s Egg?” said a puzzled Australian journalist before Pumas coach, Daniel Hourcade, stepped in to reveal his alias.
The nickname comes from his childhood when his brother Luis decided his head looks like an egg.
“Sometimes people call me by my real name and I do not realise they are talking to me,” said Hourcade. “I am the Egg.”
Five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez, the second-highest scorer in this World Cup with 74 points and one of the most senior players in the Argentina squad, is known as “Puppy”, but only because his older brother was “Dog”.
Santiago Cordero is known as “Corderito” because of his family name, which means lamb.
He is also called “Fluff”.
“I am called this because I have a lot of hair everywhere,” Cordero joked.
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe is known as “Cork”.
His mother gave him the name because he was a plump child.
The “Rete” name for Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias is a play on the name for a baby’s pacifier.
“One of my first words was ‘retete’ to ask for a pacifier. Then it was shortened to Rete,” Gonzalez Iglesias said.
And so the list goes on.
Prop Juan Figallo is named after a children’s cartoon dragon “Chipi” because his rugby player father had that name. Tomas Lavanini is known as “Tongue” because he does not talk much.
Juan Martin Hernandez has acquired the name “El Mago”, or The Magician, because of his skills.
Only Juan Pablo Socino and Marcos Ayerza have more traditional rugby names.
Socino is called “Matmut” or Mammoth, because of his 110kg physique.
Leicester prop Ayerza is “Toro”, or Bull, because he is good in the scrum.
Pablo Matera has the sobriquet, “Loco”, or Mad, but everyone insists it is meant in a nice way.