FIN­ISH­ING SCHOOL

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CON­TENTS -

Ar­gentina may prove a sur­prise pack­age af­ter four sea­sons in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Ar­gentina are hop­ing to em­u­late their best World Cup per­for­mance which was in France eight years ago when they fin­ished third. PABLO CSAKY and CAR­LOS STAL­GIS with the story.

THEY AR­RIVE IN ENG­LAND AS..?

Fiercely de­ter­mined to prove they are one of the four best teams in the world. Ar­gentina’s ob­jec­tive is to reach the semi­fi­nals. How­ever, re­sults dur­ing the last four years make this goal a stretch. They be­came a part of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship in 2012 and af­ter three years of par­tic­i­pa­tion they won their first match against Aus­tralia in 2014 in Men­doza. In last Novem­ber’s test matches they de­feated France and Italy play­ing with a younger team. They are a team on the rise and hav­ing been ex­posed to the greater pace and in­ten­sity of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship could be a sur­prise pack­age.

WHAT TYPE OF FOOT­BALL WILL THEY PLAY?

Ar­gentina are try­ing to play more at­tack­ing rugby, which was one of their big­gest prob­lems dur­ing the last World Cup. They are strong in de­fence, but they are still hav­ing prob­lems with their at­tack, which is not pen­e­trat­ing enough. They have re­cov­ered the scrum as their best weapon, and they are im­prov­ing their li­ne­out, which was one area of weak­ness in their game. Set piece will al­ways be their ba­sis of their game but they need to im­prove their dis­ci­pline and ac­cu­racy at the break­down and tack­led ball.

ARE THEY SUIT­ABLY MO­TI­VATED?

Ar­gentina is fac­ing a huge chal­lenge. They are try­ing to per­suade more of their play­ers to re­turn from Europe and play in Ar­gentina.

That’s not easy to do for many rea­sons but will be helped if the Pu­mas can show they are ca­pa­ble of be­ing one of the best teams in the world. The Pu­mas need to be a gen­uine as­pi­ra­tional car­rot and the World Cup will de­fine the real po­si­tion of Ar­gen­tinian rugby.

DO THEY HAVE ENOUGH PER­SON­NEL DEPTH?

Ar­gentina does ap­pear to have enough depth. Most po­si­tions are cov­ered by at least two play­ers with ex­pe­ri­ence in that po­si­tion, but not all. For ex­am­ple dur­ing the last World Cup Ar­gentina played with three No 10s in their backs. The cen­tre po­si­tion has been the main prob­lem. Ac­tu­ally they have Marcelo Bosch and Juan Martin Her­nan­dez cov­er­ing cen­tre but nei­ther are nat­u­ral No 12s or 13s. The loose for­wards are not a prob­lem; even the younger play­ers are hav­ing ex­cep­tional per­for­mances - Fa­cundo Isa, Pablo Mat­era, Ortega De­sio. Lock is well cov­ered too with Ma­tias Ale­manno and To­mas La­vanini. Un­for­tu­nately, Pa­tri­cio Al­bacete will not be part of the team due to in­ter­nal is­sues.

CAN THEY COPE WITH THE PRES­SURE?

Ar­gentina knows how to deal with pres­sure and never gives up; this is part of the Ar­gen­tinian rugby pride. Proof of that was the game against Scot­land dur­ing 2011, which they were los­ing un­til the last minute’s win­ning try by Lu­cas Gon­za­lez Amorosino.

The squad ar­rives with new blood and keen to show their huge po­ten­tial in Eng­land. They were tested by France in Paris, and they re­sponded well win­ning that game un­der huge pres­sure. This fact could be a key fac­tor on cru­cial games.

WHERE ARE THEIR WEAK­NESSES?

Ar­gentina have ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers such as, Juan Fer­nan­dez Lobbe, Juan Leguiza­mon, Agustin Creevy, Martin Lan­dajo, Mar­cos Ay­erza, Juan Fi­gallo, Juan Martin Her­nan­dez, Marcelo Bosch, Ho­ra­cio Agulla among oth­ers and prob­a­bly some of them will not be in­cluded in the fi­nal squad. De­spite the fact that most of the squad are younger and played in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship the weak­ness of the team is the rel­a­tive lack of caps at high­est level.

WHAT ARE THEIR KEY STRENGTHS?

A strong scrum that is a pow­er­ful weapon and good play­ers who are both ball win­ners and fin­ish­ers. Their ba­sic skills are strong and their kick­ers are usu­ally ac­cu­rate.

WHAT PO­TEN­TIAL PROB­LEMS COULD THEY IN­CUR?

The ex­cess of con­fi­dence could be a key fac­tor for Ar­gentina in their pool. Teams such as Ge­or­gia, Tonga or Namibia could be com­pli­cated matches for Ar­gentina due to that ex­cess of con­fi­dence.

DO THEY HAVE A STRONG ENOUGH LEAD­ER­SHIP TEAM?

After the last two Rugby World Cups, Ar­gentina faced prob­lems in this area due to the lack of nat­u­ral lead­ers. Juan Fer­nan­dez Lobbe re­placed Felipe Con­tem­poni af­ter his re­tire­ment, but then he re­signed. Daniel Hour­cade, head coach of Ar­gentina des­ig­nated Agustin Creevy as a new cap­tain who is tak­ing his role se­ri­ously but still lacks ex­pe­ri­ence.

MUCH BET­TER: Ar­gentina are a bet­ter side than they were in

2011.

BIG LESSONS: The Pu­mas have learned plenty from the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Juan Fer­nan dez

Lobbe

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