|Photo: The Daily Mail Santiago Phelan and Sir Graham Henry|
Los Pumas Headcoach Santiago Phelan has been in charge of the test team since replacing Marcelo Loffreda in 2008. Following a satisfactory performance from the Argentine team at Rugby World Cup 2011 his contract was extended until the end of the 2013 season. It was thought that this would make it easier for Argentina to adapt to the new schedule which would see Argentina play in The Rugby Championship. The new contact was for two years rather than more as it was mutually agreed upon that it was un konwn whether, or not, it would be in the best interests of the UAR or of Phelan to have him coaching the team at Rugby World Cup 2015.
Over the past days the issue has been appearing in a number of places including social networks and rugby websites. The President of the UAR has come out to make it clear that this year is all but certain to be the final one with Phelan in charge of Los Pumas. Luis Castillo said: "Today I see it as unlikely. I always have hope that 'Tati' (Phelan) will continue on as coach, but he has still said no. He gave his personal reasons last February."
Phelan's contract comes with the power for him to request a two year extension which would see him coach the team at England 2015 but earlier this year, he revealed that he doubted he'd continue to lead the Pumas "for personal and family matters. I do not know if I can commit to more time" Should Phelan not stay on then finding a replacement could be complicated but as Castillo points out it "the replacement may well be an Argentine coach or a foreign coach. But he will have to have a great personality to manage the squad."
Leading contenders would appear to be, in no particular order, as follows:
- Former Wales and New Zealand coach Sir Graham Henry
- Current Los Pampas XV coach Daniel Hourcade
- Current Montpellier forwards coach and former Puma Mario Ledesma
- Current Montpellier Headcoach and former Pums assistant Fabien Galthie
- Former Pumas coach Marcelo Loffreda