Los Pumitas want to make Argentina proud
By Cecilia Canazza
It was an explosive start to the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 for Argentina after a strong second half performance saw them upset France 18-15 at the University of Western Cape Stadium in Cape Town on Monday.
They had trailed by 10 points at half time, but Los Pumitas returned to the field determined to claw their way back and, slowly but surely, they managed this to do so with Juan Capiello's try and some resolute defending securing the victory.
"I felt great happiness when I scored the try. For the team it was a great incentive to then work on the win that definitely didn’t come easy," said Capiello.
Confidence was definitely not lacking amongst the Argentines, even when they trailed at half time, with wing Ramiro Finco insisting that he never stopped believing and "I thought this game was going to be ours at all times.
"We knew it was going to be tough. At half time we had our talk, we said we were going to win the game and that’s what we did."
The Australian challenge
With not much time to celebrate the team have been preparing to face 2011 semi finalists Australia on Friday in Stellenbosch. The two teams have never met before at a Junior World Championship but Finco insists they are ready to take the field against the favourites to top Pool C.
"They scored 67 points against Scotland. I think but for us it’s the same (as with France). We just need to analyse our rival, look for any weakness, take advantage of them and make Argentina proud."
With both teams having won on the opening day, this match could prove be decisive in determining the final standings with only the Pool C winner guaranteed a place in the semi finals. Capiello, though, feels confident and has high expectations for the battle with Australia.
"I think that Australia, just like France, are a team of great substance and who play very good rugby. Australia has a very dynamic play, and I think that rugby from the northern and southern hemispheres is very different, but if we do things right and stick to our game plan we can repeat what we did with France."
Los Pumitas will face Australia with a much changed team, only four players remaining in the starting line-up from the France match. The rotation of players, though, is all part of the plan that coaches Bernardo Urdaneta and Facundo Soler have devised for this Under 20 tournament.
Argentina's big heart
"The team changes so much because we need the players not to be tired. We have 28 players who are all at the top of their form so rotation is necessary to ensure we always have the freshest players on the field," said Urdaneta.
"We don’t have a first and a second team, we have two separate but interchangeable teams that we can adapt according to the opposition."
Los Pumitas have always had very clear objectives and continue to aim high at JWC 2012.
"Nothing has changed after the win against France," insisted Urdaneta. "We came to win not to participate, to be competitive and we are. We want to have a team that not only is capable of winning but also of performing well and playing a good form of rugby.
"We want to demonstrate that Argentina is a good team, with great talent and a big heart."
JWC 2012: Highlights of Argentina v France