WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Argentina
POOL C SPOTLIGHT: Argentina head to the Rugby World Cup relying heavily on the tried and tested, with their squad made up almost entirely of the Jaguares side that reached the final of the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby tournament.
Coach Mario Ledesma has picked 26 Jaguares for Japan, with France-based loose forward Facundo Isa the most notable omission when he named his 31-man squad last month.
The Pumas take on France in their September 21 Pool C opener, with Ledesma hoping they can repeat their shock 17-12 win against the World Cup hosts in 2007, which propelled Argentina to a third-placed finish in the tournament.
“There are obvious similarities,” said Ledesma.
“We see similar things now as to how the players feel, how they love each other, how they want the shirt, how they defend. Hopefully we will have the same result.”
French fullback Maxime Medard has targeted the game as “an all or nothing match” if either side hopes to reach the quarter-finals.
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The club’s flank Pablo Matera will captain a national team that has won just eight of 41 internationals since finishing fourth at the last World Cup, in England and Wales four years ago.
Argentina went down 18-24 to an experimental South Africa side in Pretoria last month – their ninth straight defeat since beating Australia away last September.
But playing in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa has given the Pumas valuable experience heading to Japan.
And the year of defeats don’t tell the full story – a second-half onslaught against the All Blacks in July saw the Pumas narrowly beaten 20-16 in Buenos Aires.
And Ledesma is hoping the success of the Jaguares will be transferred to the World Cup.
“The boys have prepared all year to be world champions. You have to dream big,” he said.
Former Pumas hooker Ledesma was chosen for four consecutive World Cup tournaments between 1999 and 2011 and loose forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon, now 36, equals that record after making the squad for Japan.
Only two Argentina-based non-Jaguares made the squad, plus France-based flyhalves Nicolas Sanchez and Benjamin Urdapilleta and prop Juan Figallo from English club Saracens.
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) September 9, 2019
Aim for the tournament:
“The first objective is the quarter-finals. After that anything can happen. Always dream big. The boys have prepared all year to be world champions,” Coach Mario Ledesma
Player to watch:
Tomas Lavanini. Tailor-made replacement for Patricio Albacete in the Pumas second row and a key member of the Jaguares side that reached the Super Rugby final.
Population: 44.7 million
Capital: Buenos Aires
Coach: Mario Ledesma (since August 2018)
Number of registered players: 105,151
World Rugby ranking: 11 (September 2, 2019)
Un adelanto del microdocumental “El sueño de los 31”, la historia íntima de quienes vestirán la camiseta de @lospumas en la #RWC2019. Desde el lunes 9 de septiembre estará disponible en la app oficial. ¡Descargá la app y mirá el estreno antes que todos! pic.twitter.com/zvu0AWc4sp
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) August 30, 2019
World Cup past record
1987 – Pool
1991 – Pool
1995 – Pool
1999 – Quarter-final
2003 – Pool
2007 – Third
2011 – Quarter-final
2015 – Fourth
Pool matches (all times GMT):
Argentina v France
Date: September 21
Kick-off: 07.15 GMT
Argentina v Tonga
Date September 28
Venue: Higashiosaka City
Kick-off: 04.45 GMT
Argentina v England
Date: October 5
Kick-off: 08.00 GMT
Argentina v USA
Date: October 9
Kick-off: 04.45 GMT
Backs: Emiliano Boffelli (Jaguares), Joaquin Tuculet (Jaguares), Santiago Carreras (Jaguares), Bautista Delguy (Jaguares), Ramiro Moyano (Jaguares), Jeronimo de la Fuente (Jaguares), Juan Cruz Mallia (Jaguares), Lucas Mensa (Pucara), Matias Moroni (Jaguares), Matias Orlando (Jaguares), Nicolas Sanchez (Stade Francais), Benjamin Urdapilleta (Castres), Tomas Cubelli (Jaguares), Felipe Ezcurra (Hindu)
Forwards: Rodrigo Bruni (Jaguares), Javier Ortega Desio (Jaguares), Marcos Kremer (Jaguares), Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Jaguares), Tomas Lezana (Jaguares), Pablo Matera (Jaguares, captain), Matias Alemanno (Jaguares), Tomas Lavanini (Jaguares), Guido Petti (Jaguares), Agustin Creevy (Jaguares), Julian Montoya (Jaguares), Santiago Socino (Jaguares), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Jaguares), Juan Figallo (Saracens), Santiago Medrano (Jaguares), Enrique Pieretto (Jaguares), Mayco Vivas (Jaguares)