Mark John Cueto MBE (born 26 December 1979 in Workington, Cumbria) is a former English international rugby union player. He played on the wing for Sale Sharks and England. He is currently the second leading try scorer in the Aviva Premiership.
|Birth name||Mark John Cueto|
|Date of birth||26 December 1979|
|Place of birth||Workington, Cumbria, England|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||15 st 0 lb (95 kg) |
|School||St. Thomas More School|
|University||Manchester Metropolitan University|
|Rugby union career|
He owes his surname to a Spaniard great-grandfather Antonio, who sailed from Santander in the 1900s and settled in Maryport, Cumbria, where he set up a fish-and-chip shop. His Cumbrian home town of Workington is in an area more associated with rugby league than union. Although he played his first rugby game as an eight-year-old in Workington, and played after he moved with his parents to Wolverhampton, he did not grow up playing the game. When he was 10 years old, his parents moved again to Crewe, where he took up football instead of rugby, becoming a keen Manchester United fan. He did not play rugby again until he was 17. His early clubs were Sandbach and Altrincham Kersal.
Then, when he was 17 and in his final A-level year at Alsager Comprehensive, there was the annual rugby match against Holmes Chapel. It was an occasion of no great importance. Holmes Chapel had a reasonable team, but rugby players were thin on the ground at Alsager and there was not much debate about the likely result. To make up a team, Alsager teacher Lindsay Purcell recruited a number of footballers. Cueto was one of those press-ganged into service, though when it came to sport he was easily persuaded. Football was number one but he had also done athletics, basketball, volleyball and cricket.
Cueto is married to Suzie (née Richards), originally from Corby in Northamptonshire, who works in the Manchester United FC hospitality department. She gave birth to a baby boy called Max, their first child, on 6 August 2010. They live together in Altrincham. He is a graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University.
Cueto saw success at club level in his first five years at the club, winning the European Challenge Cup twice, first in 2002 (then known as the Parker Pen Challenge Shield) when Sale beat Pontypridd 25–22 at the Kassam Stadium on 26 May 2002. He was also part of the Sale team that beat Pau, the champions in 2000, by 27 points to 3, also at the Kassam Stadium on 21 May 2005. Cueto scored a try in the victory. Cueto helped Sale Sharks to top the league in the 2005–06 season and carry that form through to win the season ending play-offs, scoring a try as they beat Leicester Tigers in the final, to become Premiership champions for the first time.
In May 2010, Cueto was voted into Sale Shark's Hall of Fame. He played his 150th match for Sale in their 54–21 defeat to Leicester in late December 2010. A few days later, Cueto was appointed club captain by the new coach Pete Anglesea; Anglesea replaced Mike Brewer as Sale had won just three out of nine matches in the 2010/11 season by mid-December. Cueto was Sale's sixth captain of the season. In April, Cueto was banned by the Rugby Football Union for nine weeks after pleading guilty to "making contact with the eye or eye area". The incident involved Christian Day and occurred in a match against Northampton on 2 April. At the start of the 2011/12 season, in August, Cueto was replaced as Sale captain, with Sam Tuitupou taking over role.
In 2005, he was called up to the British and Irish Lions for their New Zealand tour after original selection Iain Balshaw was ruled out due to injury. He featured in the third Test at Eden Park, Auckland.
Cueto was a prominent member of England's 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. He started the first match of England's defence of the title at Full-back against the USA. He also played in England's embarrassing 36–0 defeat to South Africa. Having been dropped for the next match against Samoa, he was installed to the English defence for the encounter with Tonga, which ensured England's progression through to the quarter-final stage. He was left out of the surprise quarter-final victory against Australia and the even more surprising semi-final victory over France due to a niggling injury. During the semi-final, England wing Josh Lewsey suffered a pulled hamstring and was forced to miss the final.
Cueto was selected to take his place for the 2007 final against previous pool opponents, South Africa. His participation in the match became memorable when he was denied a try in the second half of the match by Australian television match official Stuart Dickinson. After a great deal of deliberation over real-time footage (and facing a language barrier with a French television producer who did not provide the stills he wanted) Dickinson disallowed the try on the basis of Cueto's left foot entering touch (touching the side-line) before the ball was grounded. This was not immediately obvious and Cueto's left leg was subsequently raised within the boundary of play, travelling over it after the ball was on the ground; this led many to believe the judgement had been wrongly made on the basis of the latter movement. A division of opinion still exists, although most experts including BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Ian Robertson subsequently backed Dickinson's decision.
He did not feature for England throughout 2008, but was recalled to the squad for the 2009 Six Nations, scoring a try in the opening game against Italy and in England's 34–10 victory over France.
Cueto was a regular for England throughout 2010 and 2011, and contributed to England's successful 2011 Six Nations campaign. Cueto won his 50th cap for England in the final match of the Six Nations against Ireland. Cueto missed the first 2 games of the 2011 Rugby World cup in New Zealand due to a back injury, but completed a hat-trick of tries when returning to the starting line up against Romania.
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- England & Sale winger Mark Cueto given nine-week ban, BBC Sport, 11 April 2011, retrieved 22 April 2011
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