Thursday, March 8, 2012

Signs that Argentina are becoming the real deal off the pitch too

There is no question that Argentina has a World Class rugby team. The team has impressed at World Cup´s and has a resumé complete with wins over tier one sides. Los Pumas have defeated France in Paris, England in London, Wales in Cardiff, Italy in Rome and Scotland in Edinburgh. More importantly, Argentina has deliverd at World Cup´s with appearances in the Quarter Finals and a Bronze Medal in 2007. Of all the teams never to have hosted a World Cup, Los Pumas remain the best on the planet and the country´s chances of hosting Rugby World Cup 2023 are rising quickly as the UAR has been implementing groundbreaking reforms and seeing that the sport has a big future in Argentina. 

The PladAR system introduced with the help of the IRB has turned out many Pumas players and European clubs have gone on to snap them up. The UAR has seen matches go from being predominantly played in Buenos Aires to now being spread nation wide. Mar del Plata has applied to host an annual leg of the IRB World Sevens Series, a team or two in Super Rugby is increasingly recieving support and Argentina´s Provincial Championship has expanded to include Chile and Uruguay. Such implementations go above the expansion of rugby in Australia, a two time World Champion. That country has no domestic championship at all and the chances of one being constructed are next to nil. 

Argentina´s off-field progress has continued and in 2012 the year being called historical is certainly living up to the media hype. The big story of Wednesday has been called the news of the year already and is certainly nothing less than a massive shock. The World Cup winning All Blacks coach did what others tried and failed to do - get the best team in the World to win the World Cup. The chokers tag was something painful for Kiwi´s to bare but Sir Graham Henry was the man to lift the tag and see the Cup return to where it was first won, 24 years earlier. He has a record putting him amongst the best of all time, if not untouchable. With the All Blacks he coched the side to a 3-0 home series win over the Lions in 2005 and defeated every opponent in away matches. He also coached Wales at Rugby World Cup 2009 and saw the team return to the Quarter Finals for the first time since 1987. In 1999 he coached Wales to its first ever win over South Africa. Now, in 2012 he is to take on a new challenge - with Argentine rugby. 

Henry´s role is to be identical to that of former French scrumhalf, captain and Stade Français´s 2007 championship coach, Fabién Galthié. The Frenchman was the Technical Advisor to Argentina in 2008-2009 before returning to France to coach Montpellier. Henry will be looking to contribute to coaches in Argentina so that Los Pumas will be able to compete as strongly as possible in the 2012 international season. It will enable potential future coaches of Argentina and teams including Los Pampas XV to be better prepared. Henry´s appointment was widely supported with former captain and IRB Hall of Famer, Agustín Pichot calling it an honor for Argentine rugby.

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