The Pumas not just making up the numbers

Shop Roar Guru

By Shop, Shop is a Roar Guru

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    While most Roarers’ eyes are on the massive Bledisloe game this weekend, spare a thought for the other match being played.

    Most southern hemisphere fans don’t see much European rugby where most ‘Argies’ ply their trade and many of the players who are household names in France and Britain are virtually unknowns down south.

    I thought I’d try and fill in a few of the gaps regarding the hopes of the Pumas this year.

    Not many would regard their entry into the world’s toughest rugby competition as a negative despite not having a realistic chance of winning it. However, this year I’m sure as a team they will have higher expectations than to just be competitive.

    Just like last year they will especially target the Boks and Wallabies at home as genuine winning opportunities.

    Even the most one-eyed South African supporter would admit they were lucky to escape with a draw in Mendoza last year.

    There will be no complacency this year from the Boks but the Pumas will come with more confidence to the same venue to go one better. History beckons. I for one have tickets and can’t wait!

    Last year the Pumas lost to Deans’ injury struck Wallabies but were in both matches until the final whistle. I think this year the Wallabies will be a more difficult task under MacKenzie but once again the Pumas will pounce on any scent of complacency.

    The Pumas have substantially more depth thanks to last year’s tournament and the should be less fatigued and ready for whatever is thrown at them in Rosario.

    The All Blacks generally win these games unless Hugo Porter is playing so don’t expect too many upsets either home or away.

    All the same, the Pumas will be wanting to make an impression on the world champions so don’t expect them to lie down.

    The home-crowd advantage
    The fans in Argentina chant, jump, sing and shout throughout the match.

    Only the the home kicker is afforded the decency of silence for taking penalties or conversions. The away kicker has to put up with a barrage of whistling and abuse.

    Not very rugby-like but a fact of life here. Of course a harsh call by the referee doesn’t escape retribution either. Teams know that they need to get out in front to silence the crowd because the Argentine home crowd is worth points.

    Hopefully there is no repeat of the disgraceful eye laser episodes this year and that the UAR is ruthless in dealing with any reoccurrence.

    World-class players
    Amongst the squad there are European, French and English premiership champions.

    The captain Fernandez Lobbe will be sorely missed for the first encounter in Soweto.

    In my opinion he is only behind Kieren Read as the best no.8 in the game. He needs to be on the field if the Pumas are to cause upsets.

    There are still some old heads in the pack with Albacete and Leguizamon and the rest of the pack (except young tight head Matias Diaz) all have RC experience.

    It is rare that a Pumas pack gives a team and easy ride and don’t expect it this year.

    Amazingly, captain for this weekend Felipe Contempomi is still playing, especially considering he played in the 1999 world cup!

    He and JM Fernandez are past their best but watch out for Imhoff and Comacho on the wings to provide some youthful exuberance and speed in the back line.

    Martin Landajo (one of only eight amateur players in the RC) who scored the try of the championship last year against NZ, is also in fine form and defenders around the ruck need to always be wary.

    Outside backs Agulla, Amorosini and scrum half Vergallo (one of the two S15 players) are notable omissions from the starting line-up this weekend and this suggests to me that the Pumas are concentrating on the Mendoza game.

    Ideal warm up
    The hit outs between the Pumas and NSW was a great experience for both sides. It gave the Pumas an ideal platform to get some combinations going under match conditions as well as some practice with the new scrum laws.

    They will be much better prepared for the RC this year and will be more likely to hit the ground running.

    I don’t think they will win in Soweto but neither will they be over awed by the occasion which seemed evident last year. I’m sure the younger Waratahs thoroughly enjoyed playing an international line-up also.

    Hopefully this tour trend continues.

    Rugby in Argentina is presently booming as it slowly creeps into the professional age. It may be many years before the Pumas win the RC but their involvement is a massive boost for the sport here.

    Geography and economics are tricky obstacles for rugby in Argentina but the RC is going a long way to challenge these adversities. Full professionalism is probably further away than most people think but I believe they deserve their place. I wonder if Argentina win the RC before Italy win the 6N?

    For now though, along with the rest of the rugby world outside South Africa, I would just like to see the Pumas win in Mendoza this year!

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • August 16th 2013 @ 7:05am
      tc said | August 16th 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      Good article mate but I don’t know about the long wait for professionalism in Argentina, aren’t SANZAR pushing to introduce two Super Teams at the next TV deal in 2016.

      • August 16th 2013 @ 7:39am
        Shop said | August 16th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        I’d like to think so tc, however the phrase “piss up in a brewery” comes to mind. There is the depth of rugby players to do it, you just have to look at recent JWC performances. Problem lies higher up in the management. SANZAR would get to know the term “Argenomics” pretty fast.

    • Roar Guru

      August 16th 2013 @ 7:10am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | August 16th 2013 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Good on you for writing this article Shop.

      I have said earlier in the week Argentina is looking for a Big Three scalp, and SA will be the first target.

      My best wishes to Argentina, maybe just not against SA. 😉

      I must also admit Argentina and South Africa aren’t really the priorities of this site, it is up to a few “outsiders” and others to make our statements here.

    • August 16th 2013 @ 7:41am
      Shop said | August 16th 2013 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Thanks BB. I knew the timing was bad but thought I should get it out there all the same. I think if the Pumas win a game then more roarers might take notice.

    • August 16th 2013 @ 7:59am
      richard said | August 16th 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Well written article.I think the Pumas will get a scalp this year.Whose scalp is anybody’s guess.

      If they keep improving,they will beat the ABs.Sooner rather than later.

      • August 16th 2013 @ 9:13am
        Garth said | August 16th 2013 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        I, for one, am fully expecting the Pumas to become the sixth national team to have ever beaten the All Blacks (note to all: Munster doesn’t count) and for it to happen within the the next decade.

    • August 16th 2013 @ 8:04am
      Red Kev said | August 16th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I was amazed when Mike posted yesterday that Argentina are ranked below Scotland (I imagine that would change if they can jag a win this RC).

      • August 16th 2013 @ 8:20am
        Shop said | August 16th 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Their B side (mainly amateurs and B division French club players) lost to England (without thier Lions) twice heavily which caused a bit of a freefall.

    • August 16th 2013 @ 5:33pm
      Tissot Time said | August 16th 2013 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

      I believe Argentina will beat the ABs before Ireland or Scotland does

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