Marcos Moneta, the figure of the final won in Vancouver to Fiji by 29-10.  Photo: Maxi Failla.

On the sides of the training fields of the Casa Pumas venue, located in Maschwitz, the following phrases can be heard: “This kid is good huh”; “Look how it runs”; “He is an animal”.

Those accolades go to Mark Moneta. Every time “Lightning” catches the ball, he with a huge gallop he leaves behind his teammates who can only see the yellow boots moving away from him. Afterwards, he rests the icing calmly on the ingoal.

Marcos is the best Sevens player in the world. World Rugby awarded him the distinction in December 2021. His presence is overwhelming. He comes from shouting champion in Vancouver, for the sixth stage of the Rugby 7 World Series, where he was tryman of the contest and MVP of the final, and emerged as a figure of the team that won bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games -disputed in 2021-.

Marcos Moneta, the figure of the final won in Vancouver to Fiji by 29-10. Photo: Maxi Failla.

However, the simplicity that surrounds it is not the usual in consecrated athletes. “Do you want me to put on the shirt we brought for the photo?He tells the team Clarion just finishing his training under the stifling midday sun. A gesture that defines it.

The winger from San Andrés is 22 years old. He is a fan of River, admires Gallardo and is a fan of Messi. After his morning work, he has to run to the university to continue his studies in Business Administration. But first, he answers him. “How do I divide the week? Well, first I train, I study and then I spend time with my friends, with my girlfriend and I go to the club to see the boys”He says.

His great presence in the Argentine National Team does not distance him from his origins. “We always go to see the First,” he says. “We go to see our club on Tuesday or Thursday nights, when we can. Afterwards, we are with the boys and participate in other activities, for example, the Mixed Ability for people with disabilities”. The Instagram account of the Club San Andrés de Tigre never tires of thanking its star every time he steps on the premises.

-In these last years your life changed completely. You put on the National Team shirt and you are the figure. What do you feel?

-It all started in 2018 with the Youth Olympic Games (gold medal) and then came the Pumitas World Cup in 2019. After finishing my youth part, they added me to Los Pumas 7s. From 2020 my head was one hundred percent focused on Seven. After the Tokyo Olympics and the Olimpia award (for the best rugbier of 2021) I had to be a bit of a star of the team, as you say. But I handle it well. I enjoy it. Sometimes I feel pressure but well…

How do you handle that pressure?

-I’m doing mental coaching and it helps me a lot. I also meditate. I work on pressure and how to handle it. Maybe now I’m more with the issue of the ego. Do not guide yourself by who you are or what you do, that does not define you. Within everything I am Marcos. I have a family, a girlfriend. And after I walk off the court, play well or play poorly, I’m going to be the same as always. After the game there is a life…

Marcos Moneta was distinguished as the Best Sevens Player of 2021 by World Rugby.  Photo: Maxi Failla.

Marcos Moneta was distinguished as the Best Sevens Player of 2021 by World Rugby. Photo: Maxi Failla.

-When did you realize that your future was rugby?

-And… in 2017 they called me for the first concentration I had with the National Team in view of the Youth Olympic Games. Playing those Games was a break. Then they called me for Pumitas and Pumas Seven. The turning point was that. In addition, of the 12 boys that we played that year, most are currently in a national team.

-Then came the bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Did you think you’d be there?

-I remember that I had a conversation with Santi (Gómez Cora) in mid-2019. We had an individual talk. It’s the first time I’ve told it. There he tells me… ‘don’t worry, you’re fine, maybe this is a projection for Paris 2024’. I wasn’t as fast there yet and I didn’t play like I do now. And then I played the Games. I did not have it as a very clear objective, I was enjoying training. And I ended up playing them…

After getting on the Olympic podium Marcos was the figure of a team that had an outstanding debt, to celebrate again on the Sevens World Tour after thirteen years and four lost finals. “They were mixed feelings,” she confesses.

With an eye on his teammates resting in front of him, he says he is “very happy” to win that medal and for his “great performance”. However, he reflects: “I am also very happy for the boys who have been here for more than ten years. Our coach, Gastón Revol, Feli Del Mestre and all the greatest. It is a huge satisfaction for them”.

In the talk it is not the first time that the young man refers to his coach. Santiago Gómez Cora is a legend of the Pumas Seven. He was present as a player in the first two consecrations (Los Angeles 03/04 and San Diego 08/09) and as a coach in the recent victory in Vancouver two weeks ago. He has been the “head coach” of the National Team for 13 years and by dint of work and sacrifice managed to impregnate his stamp, give identity to a team and promote several young people. Over time, the results began to come.

When consulted by the historic former player, a smile appears on the face of the current Sevens star. He is no longer a muscular beast that lays waste to his rivals at sheer speed. His brown eyes light up and he says: “Santi is a person with a lot of passion for the sport. He is very competitive, detailed, analytical. He is a very good coach and a good person. He knows how to understand you outside of rugby. I personally have a very good relationship, apart from that we play in the same position”.

Do you think they are similar?

-Yes. We have a similar game, we are fast, we use our feet and we have a very similar game. Also, the winning mentality and a lot of confidence.

Marcos Moneta smiles on the training pitch at Casa Pumas.  Photo: Maxi Failla.

Marcos Moneta smiles on the training pitch at Casa Pumas. Photo: Maxi Failla.

River Plate, Gallardo and Messi

Moneta does not take off the light blue and white shirt, not even after training. He also played football during his school years, but had to give it up when “rugby got serious”. He is a competitive animal. Ever since he was a kid he hated losing, no matter the game. “To be an athlete apart from having talent or being fast, the most important thing is to have a good head“, he wields convinced.

His fanaticism for River Plate, the club he loves, moved to Marcelo Gallardo after he took over the technical direction in August 2014. “I got the best stage,” he adds. And he confesses to going every Sunday “they play at home”. He was recently invited to the box of honor by club president Jorge Brito.

However, her greatest wish is to meet the Doll. “It’s an outstanding debt. I want to see it. My brother came across it once eating at Nordelta, but I didn’t. I hope it happens. The press people told me that we’re going to River’s training there. Maybe I can meet him there. By the way, I hit the bow and we tested it on Armani,” he says with a laugh.

-Only when you took the photos, your companions appeared behind you, they made comments and you laughed. You look very comfortable…

-The team that was formed is very good. The older ones guide the boys. We are few and that helps, there are no divisions. The human group is one of the keys to the results. There I can compare it with Gallardo’s River because you never see that there are controversies or discussions that now happen a lot in Boca. If there is a problem, he stays inside and we talk about it face-to-face. Everything that bothers us, no matter how small, we say so. Always with respect and as constructive criticism. It doesn’t usually happen much like that.

-Like all soccer fans… are you a fan of Messi?

-Yes. I’m a sick fan. When I was little I looked at him… He has a winning mentality. I love that they hit him, hit him, hit him and he gets up and goes on. I watched the video “Messi es un perro” many times (originally a story by Hernán Casciari) and it seems to me that he is the example of hard work. That he was not given a title with the National Team and he was given it now. He was about to leave, he didn’t leave her and now he won the Copa América.

one of your guides

immediately the Lightning He remembers one of his companions. Gastón Revol is 35 years old and is from Córdoba. He has played for the Rugby 7 National Team since 2009. “I can compare his (Messi’s) situation with that of Gastón Revol. I remember that when we won I went to hug him directly. As if he were Messi. Just like they all did with the Flea. I went to hug him. For all that it means. Because of what he did. He came to play with Santiago (Gómez Cora), imagine how long he played, “says Marcos. His admiration is evident in his look.

-You rely a lot on the most experienced…

-Yes of course. Gaston is number one. a capo He knows how to handle a group. How to treat each specific person. He is a great leader.

Marcos Moneta and the confidence of the champion.  Photo: Courtesy Marcos Moneta.

Marcos Moneta and the confidence of the champion. Photo: Courtesy Marcos Moneta.

a special message

-Let’s go back to the last victory: champions in Vancouver 2022. I ask you because of your mentality, did you think it could happen?

-I’m going to tell you something my girlfriend told me… When we went to the final and played against Fiji, she told her friends: ‘give it up more or less’. But we won it. They are animals. They have a great squad. They are one of the best in this sport. But we analyzed them, we went in focused and we won. We hadn’t won for 13 years, we had lost the final in Malaga, we had been having a very good tournament and it happened.

-They felt that they were not escaping…

– I felt it already in the week. Moreover, there is evidence on WhatsApp. On Tuesday they had uploaded the photo of the cup and I sent it to the group and told the boys: ‘Visualize because we are going to win it’. And on Friday we went to have a coffee before playing and I told them back: ‘Ché, know that we are going to win it.’ And we win it. Then I’ll send you screen shot“.

After the interview, the Pumas Seven star left for college to study. Earlier, she sent a picture. In the screenshot you can read with conviction how a few days before the grand finale he assures his teammates victory. An image to frame.

In that game his speed stunned the Fijians. He was up to the challenge and handled the pressure with flying colors. After winning he merged into a hug with Revol and celebrated with Gómez Cora. The young man shouted champion and made history. Those who comment on the green lawn of Casa Pumas that “this kid is good” and that “he is an animal” may be wrong. Marcos Moneta is not an animal, he is a Ray who has plenty of confidence.

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