And so, the season is done. And sadly, it wasn’t a great final week of the international rugby year for the southern hemisphere.
Winless Argentina endured a difficult finish to a challenging Rugby Championship with defeat at the hands of Australia, but coach Mario Ledesma has praised the character shown by his team at the end of an arduous tour.
The Pumas went into the game on the Gold Coast without six players who were sidelined for breaching pandemic protocols on an unsanctioned day trip to Byron Bay.
With injuries and fatigue taking their toll on a weary Argentina, who have not played a home Test in two years, a makeshift team went on to lose 32-17 to the Wallabies.
“They’ve played 12 months in a row,” said Ledesma.
“They finished their seasons in Europe, went to play the July internationals. Two weeks later, three weeks later we were playing South Africa after ten days of holidays.
“It’s not the best way to prepare. They need a little rest.”
There will be no let-up on the horizon for Ledesma’s team, however, with Tests lined up in Europe against France, Italy and Ireland in November.
Despite their difficulties, the Pumas finished the competition on something of a high as a pair of tries from Thomas Gallo gave the scoreboard a respectable sheen against a Wallabies side that held a 32-3 lead after less than an hour.
“I thought we had ten minutes in the second half when they scored easy tries, like really easy tries,” said Ledesma.
“And then there was a show of character too, after two months of a lot of effort and sacrifice, especially after a difficult week the boys showed character.
“Maybe the game was done but you still have to do it.”
Ledesma said it was impossible to assess how much the loss of the sextet, which included Santiago Medrano and Pablo Matera, had on his team as they sought their first win in this season’s Rugby Championship.
“It’s really difficult to calculate that,” he said. “How do you? It’s just intangible. There’s nothing concrete. There’s no data to know how much that weighed on the game or not.
“But I thought the guys who came from the bench, who were guys who didn’t play the whole tournament, they were pretty good.”