Friday, September 13, 2013

Retro Friday - Agustín Pichot sets up victory over Ireland in 2000

The great rivalry between Argentina and Ireland began in Rugby World Cup 1999. While Wales was the host nation Argentina and Irelad found themsleves playing a knock-out match in the northern French city of Lens with the winner advancing to play France in a Quarter Final in the Irish capital of Dublin. So poorly organized was the Rugby World Cup that year that there were six different host nations with Wales being supported by all of England, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. 

The IRB has not exactly lived and learned though as Wales will host again, for a record fourth time in Rugby World cup 2015. It will host a staggering eight matches including two Quarter Finals. In comparison England´s second and third largest citiies will host only two matches between them and neither Birmingham nor manchester have been allocated Tier One v Tier One fixtures. 

Ireland is set to bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023 and is certain to include the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast which is part of the rugby playing nation of Ireland but a separate entity entirely from the soverign nation known as the Republic of Ireland. As such the country that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is has hosted matches at 50% of all Rugby World Cup´s. To compound matters there are questions over Ireland having sufficient cities with ten being the minimum. This concern could very well see the Millennium Stadium yet again being considered. 

In stark contrast to the problematic structure that exists in the United Kingdom rugby set-up Argentina is a country with ample cities and stadiums that are utilized by the UAR making it a ready-made option for 2023. Furthermore, Argentina has never hosted a Rugby World Cup match and nor has either North or South America. With Argentina in the Rugby Championship ther case for bringing the Rugby World Cup to South America will only increase. Getting Argentina into the tournament was an extremely long process and it arguably would never have been possible without the contribution on ad off the field of Agustín Pichot. 

Argentina won many supporters in 1999 with the goalkicking Gonzalo Quesada earning him the golden boot award for the highest point scorer of the tournament. He played outside Agustín Pichot who was in his second Rugby World Cup and was already playing professional rugby in England. In the aftermath of the tournament Pichot´s name was a household one in global rugby. He had scored tries against Japan and France and had shown a great understanding of the role of his position to be considered together with George Gregan, Rob Howley and Fabian Galthie as being amongst the best scrumhalves of the time. 

The 2000 season would see Pichot continue to develop and with Ireland touring Argentina in June that year the Puma was able to leave his mark yet again. Pichot put in a match winning performance in Buenos Aires as Argentina completed a 34-23 victory. Named as captain Pichot saved a try and set up two for his teammates. 

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