DURBAN – Argentina coach Mario Ledesma called South Africa “the most physical side in world rugby by far” after his side lost their opening Rugby Championship match 34-21 in Durban on Saturday.
Newly-appointed Ledesma bemoaned his side's inability to handle the Springbok physicality as they were outscored six tries to three at Kings Park stadium.
“I think obviously they had the momentum and they had much more quality ball than we had from set pieces,” he admitted. “But it is difficult against a physical side like South Africa to keep stopping them and keep defending, and not having quality ball.
“Even being in that position (where) we were 27-21 behind with 20 minutes to go... we could have won the game.
“We would not have deserved to win the game, but we were in a position to win. But we kept losing ball from lineouts and in the rucks and we knew they were targeting us on those two things.”
Ledesma said the Springboks injected pace in the second half and that made the difference.
“At the start of the second half, they started playing quick penalties, started kicking to touch and there was a purpose in everything they were doing.
“They kept playing direct, physical footy and it is like a dam, and if you keep hammering, hammering, hammering, then all of a sudden the water bursts.
“They are one of the best teams in the world, and they are the most physical team in the world by far, so we knew what was coming, we knew they were targeting us in the rucks.
“They were world class on the ball, and we knew what was coming, but we could not handle what was coming at us.”
Ledesma said his first match as national coach was difficult because of the result.
“Obviously it was really special and it is difficult to measure what it means to me as a coach when you have just lost and you did not play very well.
“But it was always a dream of mine when I started coaching. It is pretty special.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)