Pumas look to get up to speed for RWC 2015

(IRB.COM) Friday 15 August 2014
 
Pumas look to get up to speed for RWC 2015
Agustin Creevy will captain Argentina at the Rugby Championship 2014. Photo: Getty Images

Quality teams like the one that won the bronze medal at RWC 2007 only come around once every so often, as Argentina know only too well. 

The Pumas’ third-place finish in France made the rugby world sit up and take notice and promised to herald a new era where the South Americans would become equals of the established top tier nations.

Inclusion in the Rugby Championship in 2012 and the prospect of a team being entered into an expanded Super Rugby competition in two years’ time means progress has been made, certainly in terms of the country’s rugby credentials 

However on-field results have fallen well short of the halcyon days of Agustin Pichot, Felipe Contepomi and company, their struggles in recent years being reflected by a win ratio of just 25 per cent against Tier One nations since they beat France for a second time at RWC 2007.

Still without a win to their name in the Rugby Championship and up against the top three ranked sides in the world in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, Argentina will once again go into this year’s competition as firm underdogs. 

Breaking that winless cycle would provide a massive fillip to the Pumas’ chances of doing well at England 2015, and with a new coach and captain in place there is fresh optimism amongst the squad that their fortunes are about to turn.

“In my opinion we have been progressing a lot and we are now in a position where the team is solid,” said Agustin Creevy, the man chosen to lead the Pumas into its third Rugby Championship season.

“This year with the change of coach, it is getting better because Daniel (Hourcade) wants to try out more players and expand the squad. That is the reason why today we have a new challenge; we have to start pulling together a team, not just for now but for the World Cup next year. That is our main objective, without ignoring of course the importance for us of the Rugby Championship. 

“In any case, we are trying to put together the best team ever. We want to enjoy being here, feeling proud of wearing our national shirt and take Los Pumas to a higher level. We hope this current team gets there because we are working really hard towards that on everything we have been doing so far.”

Argentina have fallen to 12th in the IRB World Rankings – some 15.36 points and 10 places behind Saturday’s opening opponents South Africa. A shock win at the Loftus Versfeld would elevate the Pumas back into the Top 10.

VIEW RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH PREVIEWS>>

South Africa v Argentina

Australia v New Zealand

In a bid to make the Pumas more competitive, Hourcade has been on a fact-finding mission in Australia. The main conclusion was that the Pumas need to live up to their nickname – and play with speed.

“One of the things that we noticed and implemented during our time in Australia was the way the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere methods of training have to be different. That is what Waratahs coach Michael Cheika told us: they are two different types of rugby,” Hourcade told Total Rugby. 

“Therefore, we started to plan and create our own methodology adapting a few things we saw in Australia. In this way, the players manage to be faster in all senses and that is the kind of rugby that is played in the southern hemisphere. That is the reason why I think we will be showing a team more in line with that type of game.

“That will also provide us with more opportunities to attack because in general there is more time to recover and play a faster game if we play at a quicker tempo rather than a slow game which is of course more predictable. We are trying to improve our speed, to help us be more dynamic and also to have a better defence and positioning.“

Also on Total Rugby this week, South Africa's Handre Pollard talks about his meteoric rise from schoolboy to Springbok, we feature the ‘Wonder Women’ of WRWC 2014, our Rugby World Cup ‘Golden Moment’ takes us all the way back to the start – New Zealand in 1987, plus we get an insight into the work of the Bhubesi Pride who are helping to develop Rugby throughout Africa. All available to watch HERE>>