Thursday, June 20, 2013

Future stars emerging for Argentina in the IRB Junior World Championship

Los Pumitas sustaining their competitiveness
While the depleted national men´s team has proven unable to compete at the required level against England this month the junior side has continued on with its fine form at the IRB Junior World Championship. Los Pumitas heartbreaking loss against Wales in the third and final pool match meant that the South Americans narrowly missed out on a place in the Quarter Finals and instead advanced to face Australia in what is the equivalent of the Plate Semi Final in Rugby Sevens. The match marked the second game between the sides at junior level in as many years after Argentina faced the junior Australian side in South Africa at the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship. 

Two players involved in both competitions were fullback Santiago Cordero and flyhalf Patricio Fernández. Both players appear likely to make the step up to senior level and to do so as soon as this year. Cordero was named in Argentina´s squad for the 2013 tour of Europe. Although he did not recieve game time his selection nonetheless came ahead of a number of professional players based in Europe, notably Martín Bustos Moyano. The same thing happened to Juan Figallo in Argentina´s 2008 tour of Europe when he was selected despite bing very young. His test debut came two years later and he was able to become Argentina´s first choice tighthead prop in time for Rugby World Cup 2011. Cordero´s future as a Puma could be similar. Argentina will have a three match tour this November and chances are that Cordero will be in the squad. Fernández could also be selected and according to his former coach Agustín Pozzo he has the making of being a World Class performer.

Fernández was at the helm for Los Pumitas again as the junior Argentine side compelted a 22-15 win over Australia. While Fernández was unable to kick all his goals he more than made up for it with his pkaymaking and his finishing. Fernández ran in two tries to score a total of seventeen of his sides twenty-two points. The other points scorer for Argentina was left wigner German Schultz who scored a try early in the second half. The solo effort from Schultz is certain to be singled out as one of the best tries of the tournament. Argentina´s third try came from another player who could make the step up to international level, Pablo Matera. The backrower was out wide to recieve a cross-kick. Rather than catch it he showed soccer skills to kick it through and a chasing Fernández was able to compelte the try.

Argentina´s next opponent will be France who defeated Ireland 9-8 in the second 5th Place-Semi Final. The result means that the sides will meet for the second time in as many years and that Argentina has the chance of claiming bragging rights over all of Australia, France and Scotland. The three sides were all Los Pumitas opponents in the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship and with Argentina having played and defeated both Australia and Scotland in the 2013 event there is reason for optimism. Los Pumitas have also competed well against other Tier One sides with South Africa having lost a three match series against Argentina earlier in the year.

Off the field the UAR needs to capitalize on the emerging talent by ensuring that Argentina can have a team in Super Rugby. This is the path which will allow Argentine rugby to have sustainability and for there to be an end to the unrealistic results caused by Argentina not having full access to its players when required for international duty. Indeed the recent series loss against England came down to Santiago Phelan not having twenty-one player. As such there were third and fourth choice players in all positions except for scrumhalf which meant the side representing Argentina was anything other than a test team. With Los Pumas in the Rugby Championship there should be a push from Australian, New Zealand and South African Super Rugby franchises to sign Argentine players. Buit, thus far, it has not eventuated and there is reason to believe that the chances are not likely. As such it is vital that the UAR is able to establish an Argentine Super Rugby team and have stars wuch as Cordero and Fernández exposed to the competition in the same way as their Australian, New Zealand  and South Africa counterparts.

1 comment:

  1. It's a win-win situation....there isn't a better or more hopeful and exciting platform for launching and introducing Super Rugby into a new continent....

    these kids are already playing successfully against super rugby players for instance....from South Africa and now with Australia....

    it all comes down to money and markets of course....but just two teams is a sensible investment.... and the interest they would generate in the international sports media alone.... this World Super Rugby concept.... justifies the economic initiative....