RWC 2023 Spotlight: Argentina
Argentina have played in every Rugby World Cup to date, but it would be 20 years on from their debut before they truly left a mark in the tournament’s history with a memorable 2007 campaign in France in which they returned home with the bronze medal.
We take a look back at Los Pumas’ Rugby World Cup story.
RWC debut: 24 May, 1987 v Fiji at Rugby Park, Hamilton
RWC appearances: Played 41 – Won 21 Drawn 0 Lost 20 – Points for 1,098 Points against 839 – Win ratio 51 per cent
Most RWC appearances: Mario Ledesma, 18 (1999-2011)
Most RWC tries: Juan Imhoff, 7
Best finish: Third (2007)
Qualification for RWC 2023: Third place in Pool C at RWC 2019
Most memorable match: When Los Pumas spoilt host nation France’s opening night party with a 17-12 victory at RWC 2007. Ignacio Corleto scored the only try with the rest of the points coming from the boots of David Skrela and Felipe Contepomi. The result left the 80,000 Stade de France crowd stunned. It wasn’t a one-off either, as Los Pumas returned to Paris later in the tournament and beat the host nation for a second time to claim the bronze medal.
Iconic moment: Diego Maradona dancing with the team in the changing room after they defeated Tonga 45-16 in Leicester en route to the RWC 2015 semi-finals.
Low point: Losing their opening game of RWC 2019 against France to a late, long-range drop goal from Camille Lopez. The result proved pivotal to the make-up of Pool C, with Les Bleus finishing runners-up to England at Los Pumas’ expense. It was the first time since 2003 that they hadn’t progressed beyond the pool stages.
Iconic player: Agustín Pichot. With his Latin good looks and long flowing hair, Pichot always had the makings of being a rugby superstar. A natural leader, Los Pumas’ talisman produced a series of outstanding performances at RWC 2007 and was integral to them achieving their best-ever finish of third.
Record-breaker: Fly-half Gonzalo Quesada finished RWC 1999 as the tournament’s top scorer with 102 points, a tally that included a record 31 penalties. He was one point clear of Australia’s Matt Burke and five clear of South Africa’s Jannie de Beer in a tournament where kickers had a massive role to play.
Did you know? Argentina only won one of their first 10 Rugby World Cup matches (25-16 v Italy in 1987). A 32-16 win against Samoa at RWC 1999 finally brought their barren run to an end.
Quote: “Apart from playing for third place, the team played for what has been talked about at a lot at press conferences, they played for how they feel the game, for that sentiment of romanticism.” – Agustín Pichot waxes lyrical after the bronze final in Paris in 2007.