Friday, May 13, 2011
Los Pampas XV win Vodacom Cup 2011
History has been made in South Africa as for the first time ever a non-South African team is champion of the Vodacom Cup. In just their second season of Vodacom Cup Rugby, Los Pampas XV have been crowned champions after completing a 14-9 victory over the Blue Bulls at Olën Park in Potchfestroom on Friday evening. The championship win means Los Pampas XV have gone through the campaign undefeated. The tournament is used by South Africa as a feeder to the Currie Cup and Super Rugby with many players every year going on to play as full time professionals at the top level. Argenitna´s participation and triumph is thus no small achievement. Rather it is an indicator of the strength of domestic rugby in Argentina as no player involved is based in Europe as a professional however a number of players will, without question, join foreign clubs for the 2011-2012 season and some already have contracts confirmed. The victory, against the Blue Bulls is also of high importance considering the Bulls top side are the current Super Rugby Champions.
The final was not the greated match of the Vodacom Cup as wet conditions dictated play and prevented the sort of running rugby that has been common throught the tournament. The games only try was scored by the Argentine side in the 25th minute of the first half. Los Pampas XV lead the game from start to finish with flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez slotting a penalty goal in the 11th minute. The teams try through inside centre, Agustín Gosio 14 minute latter would be the last time points were scored in the first half as Los Pampas XV led 8-0 at the interval. The Blue Bulls had the better of play in the early proceedings but were unable to convert their possession into points. Special merit was given to Los Pampas XV forwards Benjamín Macome, Maximiliano Bustos, Agustín Creevy and Julio Farías Cabello, who are all to train with Los Pumas as part of a 45 man squad for the June international matches vs the french Barbarians in Argentina.
The second half started well for the South Americans as in the 43rd minute, Nicolás Sánchez put Los Pampas XV ahead 11-0 with his second penalty goal. The Blue Bulls scored next as flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked his first of three penalty goals in the 49th minute to cut the deficit to eight points. Two further penalties in the 62nd and 77th minute ensured the game would not be decided until the final whistle but the Argentine side remained in control of the game thanks to a 57th minute penalty to replacement flyhalf Santiago González Iglesias.
The five point victory should see many doors opened to Argentine rugby and to the players themselves. Thirteen of the players in the Vodacom Cup team are in consideration for a place at Rugby World Cup 2011. Many of these players have been selected ahead of players based in Europe to take on the French Barbarians in June. The current online debate of many as to whether or not Argentina should participate in Super Rugby has been emphatically answered in the most powerful way as Los Pampas XV celebrate their success and return home to Argentina as heroes. Clearly, Argentina has a lot to offer global rugby and the 2011 Vodacom Cup title further supports Argentina hosting Rugby World Cup 2023.