LONDON (Reuters) - Argentina are no longer the Top 10’s forgotten team after they reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals for the second time playing an attacking game admired by their opponents and loved by fans.
Having finished third at the 2007 World Cup, Argentina went back to playing a mere six tests per year while looking on as the other nine teams in the elite took part in the Tri-Nations or Six Nations.
Captain Agustin Creevy’s Pumas, having lost their semi-final 29-15 to Australia on Sunday and regardless of the outcome of Friday’s third place playoff against South Africa, have so much to look forward to after four seasons in the Rugby Championship.
Looking to consolidate the game preached by coach Daniel Hourcade, Argentina make their debut in Super Rugby with a franchise that will include a majority of the younger World Cup Pumas.
“We’ve got a very strong base. Each new player plays at the same level as those that have been there for a long time,” said
“Not just here, but in Argentina as well, there are many players who are excellent and will be even better. I feel very happy rugby is progressing very well in Argentina ... there are beautiful things to come,” he told reporters.
“We will follow Daniel’s plan, a more offensive, attacking game. That’s the way to reach the top on the world stage.”
Former captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 33, a veteran of the 2007 team, said he was privileged to be part of the 2015 vintage and believes a new rule denying foreign-based players a Pumas place in the future, apart from at World Cups, was correct.
“It’s tough but I think it’s right,” said the Toulon flanker who has played all his professional club rugby in Europe. “It’s the way to ensure the team keeps growing and stays on the right path.”
Knowing Friday’s match is almost certainly his last in a Pumas jersey, Fernandez Lobbe said: “If this squad can beat South Africa that’s another big step.
“This team needs to become accustomed to beating these teams. It’s important for all those who aspire to the 2019 World Cup.”
Hooker Creevy, one of three injured players to miss the third-place playoff along with centre Juan Martin Hernandez and wing Juan Imhoff, said: “We’re very sad but there’s no time for regrets, we must think of Friday and another final, we want to get on the podium”.
Told that South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer had considered the match meaningless, Creevy said: “I don’t know why he says that, it means something now, it’s our prime objective”.