World Cup Preview: Argentina

Group B Opposition: England, Scotland, Georgia, Romania

Pedigree: The newest rugby superpower, and at this level, it has been at Ireland’s expense. Lyon in 1999 and Adelaide in 2003 were close, but we got panned in 2007. In that respect, we weren’t alone – France were beaten twice, and the extent of the Pumas’ quality in France was illustrated by the air of disappointment that surrounded them only finishing 3rd.

Players to watch: If a Martian landed on Earth and demanded to know what a prop forward was, WoC would put forward the redoubtable Rodrigo Roncero – always fun to watch and a master of the dark arts. Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe provide the class in the backrow, and Santiago Fernandez has been a revelation at Montpellier this year – we hope to see him re-produce his regular season form.  Meanwhile, Leinster fans may even get to see what Mariano Galarza actually does on a rugby pitch.

Good Tournament: Argentina are top seeds in this group, and will plan to beat England, then continue their hex on the French in the quarter-final and reach successive semi-finals.

Bad Tournament: Losing to the Scots, something of a bogey team for Argentina, and going home early.

Prospects: Argentina go into a tournament with respect, for the first time. Four years on from 2007, its hard to credit that virtually nobody had them coming through the group. In the event, they were one of the best teams in the competition, regretably freezing against the Boks.

To an extent, the objective is now different. In 2007, the team played with a controlled nationalistic fervour to show the world they meant business, and demanded to be seen as equals. This time around, the generals of 2007 (with the exception of Pichot and Hernandez) may still be there, but with a new generation being gradually infused, retrenchment is the order of the day. The lack of regular engagements precludes a definite judgement on where they stand, but they seem to be a level below four years ago.

The set-piece still bristles with menace and intent, and the two back-rows mentioned above are among the best around, but the backline isn’t quite together yet. In the halves, Dr Phil is a flaky 10 and Vergallo has yet to fulfil his promise. Ouside those two, its more perspiration than inspiration. As usual, European rugby sustains the Argentinian team and Bustos Moyano and Agulla have impressed since coming North, however, the aptly-named Marcelo Bosch is more typical of the approach. Also, its going to be interesting to see who kicks goals – while Contepomi wouldn’t be regarded as the best under pressure, Bustos Moyano scored 283 points for Montpellier, and nailed many a pressure kick.

The attritionary nature of this pool will suit Argentina’s pack, but having England first may be a disadvantage – last time out they improved as the tournament went on, and the leathering of France in the 3rd place playoff was the most complete display of any team. It’s likely to come down to a Scotland-Argentina showdown for second place here, and Scotland have the misfortune of being first up for the huge Georgians … just before they play the Pumas.

Verdict: Vigourous debate is ongoing at Cordite Towers. Firstly, we both agree that England should take them. Regarding second place, Palla Ovale points to Scotland’s impressive record against the Pumas (better than Ireland, France and England), whereas Egg Chaser sees a much stronger XV taking on a Scotland team harrowed by the Georgians (much like Ireland in 2007) and putting them out of their misery. Egg’s (slightly) greater conviction just carries the day, but NZ will whack and bag them in the quarters.

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10 Comments

  1. Argies could well upset the sweet chariot, We know from experience they are always there to spoil the party! I can see them getting out of the group and get destroyed in the quarter against the All-Blacks. Watch out next word cup, with their inclusion in the 4N's from next season, they will have decent international level tests under their belt and could go that bit further?

  2. Players like Pichot don't come around that often and he is a huge loss from '07 as a scrum half and talisman. As you say – it could be squeaky bum time to get out of group. A few points either way against Scotland and England could be the difference between two wins and two losses.Irrespective, after a group slugfest you'd suspect Blacks or bleus would have their number this time in the quarters.Hadn't considered the Georgians – fair point, made that mistake in 2007! Still hurts to think of it.

  3. Well – they certainly can't be harmed by being in the 4N, but there just isn't the capacity for a pro game in Arg. You will still have the players all over the shop – it could easily be a B side in the 4N… Given where the players are, joining the NH season makes much more sense – but you can see why the UAR are maintaining the facade of developing a pro game at home..Back in RWC11, yes, whoever gets through this pool will be black and blue – even the minnows can scrummage. In fact, do Scotland have the worst scrum?

  4. I have to say I would give Argentina better prospects in the group Egg Chaser and Palla Ovale. I think they really will make life difficult for England and can see them nicking that match and with it the top place in the group. Scotland have a decent record on paper against Argentina but if you look at it in depth 2 of their most recent wins were against a second string in Argentina.Also England were the top seeds in this group as they were (somehow!) in the top 4 in the world rankings after the Autumn Internationals in 2008

  5. @JSRF Good points on the Scotland wins, but I'm not sure about the seedings:http://www.irb.com/rankings/archive/date=2008-12-01/histranking.htmlActually, as time goes on, I'm getting a beter fancy for the Pumas, but they really need the halves to catch fire…

  6. I dunno I think the 6N/3N might have their number this time. Decision was made over two years ago to add them to TriNations yet they're not actually being added till next season. No doubt SANZAR will claim that was for logistical reasons, but I reckon it was also to keep them away from competitive rugby for one more World Cup. The "still no tournaments thing" plus now the "everyone's ready for you" thing makes me lean towards Scotland managing to slog past them in a kickfest and nip into 2nd spot.

  7. Think 2007 was the anomaly and not necessarily a sign of things to come. This time around would I right in thinking they the whole squad will essentially be professional? The Pampas did really well in Vodacom so may have a wider selection to pick from. I think England will just about have the beating of them

  8. In 2007, 7 of the 30 were home-based, and now, 9 of the 39-man preliminary squad are.Similar, but if the home-based players have more experience abroad, better!

  9. Nice post WoC, keep it up.

  10. Thanks a lot for sharing the information…….By the way check out the total information about the Rugby World Cup 2011 like, Players, Rosters, Tickets, Sponsors, Rugby World Cup 2011 Dates , Rugby World Cup 2011 Results and more from Rugby World Cup 2011 Schedule .

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