One was a member of the security detail for Manny Pacquiao. The other is a Brazilian jiu jitsu instructor with links to the Brown Berets.
And between them these former teammates have lit the fuse for the first Latin American Rugby League Championship, starting a war of words where no love has been lost.
If you think Latinos playing a high-speed, collision-based game is a recipe for some volatile exchanges, you’d be 100 per cent correct.
Ahead of the November 17-18 event in Chile, key players Jonathan Espinoza (Chile, pictured left) and Grantito Chacone (Mexico, pictured right) have upped the stakes with some brutal baiting online.
It all started when security guard Espinoza threatened to choke out old friend and BJJ expert Chacone when the two nations meet on the first day of competition at Los Angeles in the Bio Bio region.
He also made reference to Chacone dislocating his toes, an injury sustained when the two played side-by-side for a combined Latin America in 2014.
A defiant Chacone, expected to be one of the Mexicans’ most influential players, quickly returned serve.
“All I’ll be dislocating this tournament will be the hopes and dreams of the other nations,” he retorted.
Chacone, who has received previous international press for burning cows’ hearts on the sidelines before a game to motivate teammates, also gibed that he would specially fly in hearts from the rival nations – Chile, Argentina and Colombia.
“I just don’t think I’ll find any Chileno hearts big enough though,” he taunted.
In response to another challenge from Espinoza to “run it straight” during their looming clash, fullback Chacone labelled 118kg Espinoza a “fake front rower”.
“No sidestepping or flopping this game,” said Chacone.
“What’s it say that the Mexican fullback is harder than the Chilean front rower?”
Again, Espinoza quickly responded.
“Won’t be fake when you get sent home on a stretcher,” the 26-year-old teased the 35-year-old.
“A cleaner from Chile would be stronger than a Mexican fullback.”
Espinoza then described Chacone as a “vato loco wannabe”, a reference to the gangsters featured in cult film Blood In, Blood Out.
That really added accelerant to the fire, resulting in an even more explosive exchange.
“Settle down Chilean Superman,” Chacone chided back.
“See, this is why your face is going to get stomped by my boots.
“I’ll see you on the field and your ragtag team.”
What then followed were requests for each other to apologise, before Espinoza finished with “I’ll apologise for breaking your legs when I tackle you”.
Just when you thought the James Tedesco-Shannon Wakeman saga had the monopoly on beef between mates this week.
- The Primer Latinoamericano Rugby League Championship will be held 17-18 November at Los Angeles, in the Bio Bio region of Chile. All teams will play two sanctioned RLIF Test matches over the two days, with 95 per cent of players coming from domestic competitions in Latin America and the other five per cent consisting of heritage players travelling from Australia at their own expense. The opening day will see host Chile play Mexico in one side of the draw, and Argentina play Colombia in the other side of the draw. The final day will pit the losers of Day 1 in a bronze medal match and the winners of Day 1 in the championship final. The event will be the first time Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have played full 13-a-side games under international rules. A three-week itinerary of development clinics, referee accreditation and promotional activities has been scheduled around the event, both in Chile and Argentina.
- You can make a donation towards the considerable expenses involved in running the event via the link: www.chuffed.org/project/latino-rugby-league-championship
- The 100% volunteer-run Latin American Rugby League is supported by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, Shield Security Pty Ltd, Tattoo Tears, One Big Switch, Cast Graphics, IntaGas Services, LS Tax & Accounting Services, Serious About Rugby League, Retro-Com Digital TV Specialists, Colombianos en Brisbane, EMSA Education and Migration Services Australia, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, Cabramatta Ink Tattoo, Majestic Property Maintenance, Radio Austral and Fighting For Fitness Gym.