Manuel Montero Headlines Massive New Arrows Signings
The Toronto Arrows have dropped another massive group of signings and re-signings on Tuesday morning. Headlining the group is Los Pumas and Los Jaguares winger Manuel Montero as he moves north from SLAR. The Arrows have also announced that captain Lucas Rumball, hooker Andrew Quattrin, scrumhalf Andrew Ferguson, and flyhalf/fullback Shawn Windsor will all be returning to the Arrows in 2021.
Since the retirement of Dan Moor, Arrows fans have been left wondering who will replace him. Enter Manuel Montero. Montero made his Los Pumas debut against Uruguay in 2012 and would go on to earn 27 caps. Montero’s career got off to an impressive start and he demonstrated a ridiculous strike rate early in his career as he racked up 13 tries in his first 15 matches. Montero’s strike rate would slow down a bit as he dealt with some injuries throughout his 5 years with Los Pumas and ultimately finished with 16 tries.
Throughout his career, Montero has had stints with Argentina Sevens, Argentina XV, Super Rugby’s Jaguares, Pucará of the URBA Top 14, and most recently he was the first player signed to the Olimpia Lions of the newly formed SLAR. In signing with the Lions, Montero became the first professional rugby player to sign with a Paraguayan team. Montero joins a growing Argentine contingent on the Arrows with Tomás de la Vega, Juan Cruz González, and Gastón Cortés already locked up for the 2021 season.
The Arrows will feature a massive South American presence in their back three in 2021. Montero and González will be the new additions joining Uruguayans Leandro Leivas and Gastón Mieres. The back three has been the most impacted position of the Arrows off-season. Moor’s retirement and Sam Malcolm’s departure to Japan left two massive holes in the squad. González looks to be the fullback replacement for Malcolm and Montero will replace Moor on the wing.
At 6 foot 4 and 249 lbs, Montero is an imposing presence on the wing. He has a nasty sidestep that he can bust out when he needs it, but you will often see him electing to go through opponents on the way to the dotting down a try. Mark Winokur and Chris Silverthorn will find themselves in an interesting position as they try to determine who will wear the 11, 14, and 15 jersey. One of Leivas, Montero, Mieres, and González will have to be left out of the starting XV. Regardless of who gets selected the Arrows back three is absolutely loaded and is one of the best in MLR, if not the best.
Montero has been brought in to replace Moor’s contributions on the pitch and is more than capable of replacing the number of tries Moor racked up. However, Moor’s leadership will be a lot harder to replace. The man that will be put in charge of that will be Lucas Rumball. Rumball is one of the premier flankers in MLR and served as the Arrows’ vice-captain in 2020. Rumball was the Arrows’ captain for their first MLR match against the NOLA Gold. With Moor retiring, Rumball looks to be the next in line for the captaincy.
Rumball’s 2019 MLR campaign was limited to just 6 games due to the Americas Rugby Championship and a knee injury. Rumball was able to recover in order to participate in Canada’s RWC campaign where he shined as one of the squad’s best players. Rumball played in all 5 matches of the 2020 season. During the 2020 season Rumball had 69 tackles which put him in a tie with RATL’s Johan Momsen and Utah’s Jurie van Vuuren for 5th in the league. Rumball made those tackles at a 94.5% completion rate. Rumball also found himself in the top 5 in the league in breakdown steals trailing only NOLA’s Cam Dolan and Austin’s Moe Abdelmonem.
Rumball’s ability at the breakdown is elite and he has earned countless penalties for the Arrows as well. Rumball is a key player on the defensive side of the lineout as well. He has a terrific ability to swim through the maul and tie up the ball. This skill set was on full display at the end of the match with the Houston SaberCats. The Arrows were down de la Vega and Mike Sheppard after the both were sent off ahead of the final play of the match. Despite the shorthanded pack, Rumball was able to make his way through the maul and ultimately came away with possession, sealing the victory for the Arrows.
On the offensive side of the ball, Rumball had 29 carries for 94m and a try. Rumball is a solid ball carrier and is often able to pick up plenty of hard metres for the Arrows. Rumball combined with Tomas de la Vega and Manuel Diana to form one of the best back rows in MLR during the 2020 season. Arrows fans should be thrilled that the dominant trio will be returning for 2021. Additionally, Kolby Francis and Marcello Wainwright will provide exceptional depth to the Arrows strongest position. Peter Milazzo remains the only back rower that has yet to sign with the club.
In a way, Andrew Quattrin became the poster child for how MLR can help develop North American talent. Quattrin entered the 2019 campaign uncapped. His outstanding year propelled him into the national team and he was able to earn his first cap for Canada during the summer test window and ultimately representing Canada at the Rugby World Cup.
Quattrin has developed into one of the premier hookers in MLR. He operates in the front row of the best scrum in MLR. The Arrows were simply dominant in 2020 and their scrum was a major factor in their four victories. The Arrows won 95.5% of their scrums, which was 2nd behind NOLA’s 95.7% (although the Arrows never got the chance to feast on Old Glory’s scrum). Quattrin, of course, played an integral role in the Arrows lineout.
The Arrows won 87.3% of their lineouts, trailing just San Diego, Utah, and Houston. Quattrin was able to consistently connect with de la Vega as he finished 2nd in the league in lineout takes. Quattrin was a vital piece of the Arrows' incredibly effective set piece that gave their attack a solid platform to work from.
Away from the set piece, Quattrin demonstrated a terrific work rate. Quattrin made 29 tackles at a 94% completion rate and had 24 carries for 89m during the abbreviated 2020 season. Quattrin will once again join forces with Steven Ng as a terrific tandem at hooker.
Andrew Ferguson becomes the first scrumhalf to be officially locked up by the Arrows for the 2021 season. Ferguson has played in all but one match in Arrows history. Ferguson is among the franchises leading try scorers as he dotted down 6 times during the 2019 season. The Oakville Crusaders product completed 208 passes, had 18 carries for 59m, made 18 tackles (90% completion), and kicked for 201m during the abbreviated 2020 season.
Ferguson has played a key role in being able to get the Arrows quick ball while distributing accurately and intelligently. He also has a knack for being able to catch penalized teams off guard with an effective quick tap. He has caught a few teams sleeping and picked up a few of his six tries in that manor. Ferguson is an interesting player for the Arrows. He seems to constantly be in a battle with Jamie Mackenzie for the number 9 jersey.
When Mackenzie is unavailable (due to international duty or injury) Ferguson has more than demonstrated that he is a legit starting nine in MLR. However, when Mackenzie has been available, Ferguson will be making a big impact off the bench. To be honest, having two scrumhalves that are both deserving of the starting jersey is a good problem to have. Of course, we will still have to wait and see on Mackenzie’s announcement.
The final player in the group is flyhalf/fullback Shawn Windsor. Early in 2019, Windsor beat out Jack Evans for the starting fullback role. Windsor held onto that spot until the arrival of Mieres and Pat Parfrey. Again prior to Parfrey’s arrival, Windsor was the only flyhalf other than Sam Malcolm on the roster. He was instrumental in the Arrows finishing their road trip 4-4 in 2019. During his 8 appearances in 2019 Windsor 34 carries for 188m and made 31 tackles at 82%. Windsor is probably best remembered for his ridiculous offload to Leivas for his highlight reel try against the Austin Elite at York University. Windsor did not feature in a match in the 2020 season.
This is a solid depth signing for the Arrows. Windsor has shown that he is capable of playing at this level, however, the loaded Arrows’ back three will make it difficult for him to see the pitch. As mentioned above; Montero, Leivas, Mieres, González and Windsor are quite the impressive group. Additionally, the flyhalf position now features Tayler Adams, Will Kelly, and González. Ultimately, the depth that the Arrows have at Windsor’s position is staggering, but if he is needed, I am confident in his ability to step in. Windsor will also be the head coach of the Brock Badgers program moving forward and split his time between the Arrows and Badgers.
The new group of signings now brings the Arrows official 2021 squad up to 26:
As of today, Dan Moor (retirement) and Sam Malcolm (transfer) are the only two players confirmed to not be returning for 2021. There are 13 players from the 2020 squad that have yet to have their status officially announced: