RWC2015: Argentina – Three Things You Need to Know

Well there is no denying it, the Pumas are easily one of the most improved teams heading into the 2015 RWC.

With a win over South Africa in Durban in the 2015 Rugby Championship, as well as a win against Australia the year before, the Pumas have shown that their inclusion in the Rugby Championship has had great reward.

Now, they have a real chance to push forward as their only real challenge in pool play is the All Blacks, with Tonga, Georgia and Namibia all offering a relatively straightforward match.

Like 2007, the Argentinians could easily produce upset after upset on their way to another semi-final, though the depth of their squad is something that experts are quick to highlight.

Lets take a look at three other things you need to know about Argentina!

1. History

Looking back at RWC history, the Pumas didn’t make the knockout stages of the cup until 1999 (through the quarter-final playoff system), and then in 2003 they failed to make it past pool play again.

However, in 2007 they topped their pool with four wins from four games, making it all the way to the semis before being knocked out by South Africa (the eventual winners).

They then made the quarter-finals in New Zealand in 2011 before being knocked out again.

It’s not an ideal record for the Pumas, but looking back, they had a wealth of tough opponents in each of their pools. In 2003 it was Australia and Ireland, in 1995 England and Italy, in 1991, Wales and Australia.

Now, with New Zealand, Namibia, Tonga and Georgia, its another golden opportunity for the Pumas to progress out of pool play and contest the knockout stages.

2. Knowing the Southern Hemisphere Game

In terms of teams outside the ‘big three’ (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) Argentina is perhaps the most experienced with how those top teams have been playing in the past four years.

Not only have they learned a plethora from the Rugby Championship which will no doubt help them against Northern Hemisphere opponents, but they also have the knowledge and belief that they can topple Australia and South Africa.

What will be interesting is how the Pumas adapt to the Northern Hemisphere style of play. Their forward pack shouldn’t have much trouble with the likes of England, France and Ireland, but the kicking game might play a role and their lack of depth in the backs could also hinder their ability to cope.

3. The Forward Pack

Marcos Ayerza, Ramiro Herrera and Agustín Creevy provide one of the most physical and strongest frontrow at the tournament.

Combine that with Manuel Carizza and Tomas Lavanini in the lock position, who also look comfortable as they were completely dominate over South Africa in Durban, and the Argentine forward pack will give any team a good run.

Steve Hansen has already praised the Argentine forward pack and has shown this by starting six of the eight forwards who played the opening match of the 2011 World Cup.

Their set pieces, a trademark of the Pumas game, will have time to work and create as the forwards provide quick ball.

The only question is whether the Pumas can keep it up for 80mins, or indeed the whole tournament. Many experts say the Pumas will test the All Blacks in the first 60, but will drop off in the last 20 and give up the game.

Prediction

Argentina shouldn’t have any trouble getting out of their pool.

If they are able to perform well against Georgia, Tonga and Namibia, and indeed the All Blacks, they might have the confidence to snatch a quarter-final victory and get through to the semis.

It will be a tough ask however, and most of the money is on the Pumas bailing out in the quarters, which sits in line with their World Rugby Ranking of 8th.

By Sam Hewat

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