Argentine rugby is changing for the better
- Tri Nations Tournament news
- International Rugby Union - Six Nations, Heineken Cup, Rugby Championship news
Although there is no concrete proof the world will undergo severe change come 2012, the International Rugby Board’s decision to pledge $11 million to help the Pumas join the Tri-Nations tournament two years from now, signals the beginning of a wonderful new era for Argentine rugby.
The most pleasing aspect of the IRB’s decision involves the guarantee that Argentina’s best players will be available for the southern hemisphere tournament, despite the majority of Pumas playing their club Rugby in Europe.
Names such as Juan Martin Hernandez, Horacio Agulla, Juan Sebastian Lobbe, Felipi Contepomi and Juan Manuel Leguizamon will finally get the chance to rub shoulders against some of world Rugby’s biggest names, including All Black Dan Carter, Wallaby Matt Giteau and Springbok superstar Bryan Habana.
While Argentina’s debut in the Four Nations is still two years away, the Pumas will undoubtedly use the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand as a solid platform to build the form and consistency required to match it with their southern hemisphere heavyweights.
Indeed, the Pumas are scheduled to meet the All Blacks at the quarter-final stage of next year’s Rugby World Cup – that is if Argentina finish second in Group B behind either England or Scotland.
No doubt Argentina will need to have some terrific form on the board if they are to give the World Cup favourites a shake.
The Pumas international calendar for 2010 will see them host Scotland in a two test series beginning on June 12 before playing one match against France.
In November, Argentina will embark on their European tour where they will play test matches against Italy, France and Ireland.
Since their wonderful third place showing at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the Pumas have experienced some lean results on the international stage, including recent losses to Scotland, Italy and an under strength England team last year.
Although injuries to key players have taken their toll on the squad, a full strength Pumas unit should look to win all their matches at home this season and really try to force a victory against either France or Ireland to build momentum.
In the lead-up to the 2007 World Cup, Argentina headed into the tournament on a high thanks to a great victory achieved the year before against England in Twickenham
The confidence gained from that result transpired in the Pumas historical run in France 2007, where they fell short against eventual champions the Springboks in the semi-finals.
Indeed a victory against either Ireland or France this November will re-ignite the Pumas prospects of going deep into the World Cup next year, thus climbing the steps necessary to become equals with their current Tri-Nations counterparts.
Although the Pumas depth is not at the level of New Zealand, South Africa or Australia, the IRB Junior World Championships to be held in Argentina this year will provide a clear indication of how bright Argentine Rugby really is.
Los Pumitas recently completed a two test series against the BabyBoks of South Africa in preparation for the tournament to be held in June.
Despite comprehensively losing the first test to South Africa, Argentina settled for a 20 all draw in the second match, despite leading 20-3 in the second half.
It took a 75th minute penalty goal from the BabyBoks to even the game against a Pumitas outfit which failed to take a host of match winning opportunities.
Overall, the tour proved to be a very valuable experience for the Pumitas, who are locked to play England, Ireland and France when the Junior World Championships kick off.
Indeed, Rugby in Argentina is finally starting to gain the acknowledgment it deserves, whether it be hosting the World Championships or gaining entry to the Four Nations in 2012.
Los Pumas are undoubtedly approaching the most important era in their history and the signs certainly look encouraging for a Rugby nation that will only continue to grow playing against the world’s elite on a constant basis.
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