Wednesday, January 21, 2015

International Rugby: Argentina Rugby Tries 2014

Photo UAR
The year 2014 saw a remarkable turnaround to that of the previous year. In 2013 Argentina had been badly beaten in tests matches both at home and on the road under Santiago Phelan. His departure shortly before the November 2013 tour of Europe handed Daniel Hourcade little in the way of time of options but he managed a win in Rome and subsequently put his foot down and implemented changes in 2015. Hourcadism was a success as Argentina was able to win a match in the Rugby Championship and win two out of three test matches in Europe for the first time since 2006. Hourcade's game plan produced a significantly greater number of tries with all wingers and fullbacks scoring.

Argentina enter 2015 with optimism. The leading rugby nation from the Americas won three of its final four test matches of 2014 and did so with a host of big name players missing. The back-row which was selected to start the Rugby Championship consisted of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Pablo Matera and Juan Manuel Leguizamón. All three were unable to play in the victories. 

What Hourcade brought was a means of adapting rather than capitulating. Los Pumas were able to demonstrate a unity that had been missing for too long. Arguably not since Rugby World Cup 2007 had Argentina played together in such a united manner. They did so under a new captain and one whom Phelan had overlooked throughout his tenure. The decision to not start Agustín Creevy could indeed be looked back upon as one of the most controversial decisions in recent years. 

Hourcadism featured an important change of investing time into players in a long term capacity. He was not interested in players available for short periods but, rather, those he could field when required. This saw a significantly reduced usage of European based players and it proved to be a master stroke as the likes of Jerónimo De la Fuente, Javier Ortega Desio, Santiago González Iglesias, Facundo Isa, Tomás Lezana, among others all performed well for their country. 

Of them some crossed for tries as did other players. Argentina's tries in 2014 were more notable worthy than in recent years. The 2013 Rugby Championship problem of no player from the back-three was rectified in spectacular fashion as all of Los Pumas' wingers and fullbacks scored tries. The two most notable were Manuel Montero and Joaquín Tuculet, players sparingly utilized by Phelan.

Rugby World Cup 2015 will arguably be Argentina's easiest tournament in history. For the first time since 1999 the South Americans will not be up against two teams from the former Tri Nations and Five Nations Champions. In 1999 Argentina faced Wales and a strong Samoan side in addition to Japan. This year Argentina will open against world champions New Zealand before playing Georgia, Tonga and Namibia. 

A place in the Quarter Finals is therefore a more negotiable task than previous Pumas teams have faced in the professional era. Hourcade would appear to have the players, collectivity and point scoring ability to see Argentina succeed in 2015 with an eye to going far in the World Cup.

No comments:

Post a Comment