Friday, January 17, 2014

Retro Friday - Agustín Pichot scores on debut against Australia in 1995

Photo ABC: Pichot v Australia in 2003
Former Pumas captain and IRB Hall of Famer Agustín Pichot made his debut for Argentina in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 1995 against the then World Champions, Australia in Brisbane. The Buenos Aires scrumhalf started his career well as he crossed for a try following a break from Francisco Garcia and good forward pressure. It was the birth of one of rugby´s biggest names in Rugby World Cup history as Pichot would play in four World Cups and captain Argentina to Bronze at Rugby World Cup 2007.

Although Pichot left his mark on the match Argentina was far from impressive as the home side ran out 53-7 winners. It was similar to the 2000 test played at the same venue in which the Australians were far too strong for Argentina. At the time of both tests Argentina was not interested in professional rugby whatsoever which had an impact on the national side. 

Australia, in contrast, made the transition quickly to become the first team to win two Rugby World Cups and be the number one team in the world at the start of the new millennium. Issues within Argentina saw an initial ban on players based abroad pulling on a Pumas shirt but this changed over time as an increasing number of Argentine players were signed to play in Europe, initially mainly in England. 

Pichot made the move from Argentina to Europe early joining Richmond in 1997 and subsequently played for Bristol from 1999-2003 and then playing in France until retirement in 2008. At Bristol Pichot and Felipe Contepomi formed a 9-10 combination which saw the club reach the 2002 Premiership Final against Gloucester. Pichot would form a 9-10 combination with Juan Martín Hernández at Stade Français and he became the first non-Frenchman to captain a French side to Top 14 glory. 

His debut at test level was certainly a sign of the potential of Pichot as he appeared to have maturity well beyond his age. His understanding of the fundamentals of the position saw him represent the Barbarians and maintain a place in the test side until international retirement. Pichot enjoyed victories over leading nations including Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Wales and Scotland. He was a part of the Pumas side that defeated the Wallabies 18-16 in 1997 and he also scored a try that afternoon.  

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