Argentina are hardened campaigners, says Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber
Share this article:
THE Springboks are well aware that Argentina are also a physical side, defensively well organised, and are willing to put their heads in dark spaces.
THIS time last year Argentina produced one of the greatest upsets in rugby history when they came out of months of isolation to beat the mighty All Blacks in the opening round of the Tri Nations.
The Tri Nations had replaced the Rugby Championship because the Springboks could not make the party and the Pumas only just made the tournament — which was staged in Australia — and went into the game having played no Test rugby that year.
Thus nobody saw the 25-15 victory coming, certainly not the New Zealanders and the Pumas then went on to prove it was no fluke by drawing their two matches against the Wallabies, 15-15 and 16-16.
The very easy conclusion to reach is that the Pumas are no mugs, and now they have virtually the same team in Gqeberha awaiting a Bok side that has had to be freshened up after the ardours of the British & Irish Lions series.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber knows that his revised team is going to have to gel quickly if they are to beat a very solid Argentina.
“In the changes we had to make, there’s zero disrespect to Argentina and we had this conversation with the players,” Nienaber said. “Since the World Cup, they’ve played seven Tests and they’ve only lost one. Last year they played twice against New Zealand, twice against Australia and (last month) twice against Wales, the Six Nations champions.”
The Pumas drew one match with Wales and won the other comfortably and while it it true Wales had a number of players on duty with the Lions, the two-Test series was ideal warm-up for the Rugby Championship.
“They had a very good Rugby Championship last year after having gone through phenomenal challenges,” Nienaber said. “They went through isolation in Australia and they had not played rugby since the Jaguares were disbanded when Super
Rugby came to halt (in March last year).
“In their last seven Tests, the only match they lost was their return Tri-Nations match against the All Blacks. That tells you they are a very tight group.
“In 2019, the Jaguares went straight to the final of Super Rugby, so this group of theirs have been together for ages and they know their coach (former player Mario Ledesma) very well.
“They are tactically astute and we have to really nail our planning if we are to break them down because they boast a phenomenal defence and have an attack with fast wings who can score from turnovers.
“Argentina are also a physical side, defensively well organised, and are willing to put their heads in dark spaces. On attack, they can create magic from nothing. They are willing to defend all day, but also willing to keep the ball. They can keep the ball and run through, or give you the ball and defend their way to a win. So, I really believe they’re a well-balanced side with quality across the board.”
When Super Rugby was called off early last year, it meant the end of the Jaguares. With no competition to play in, the Argentina Rugby Union disbanded the Jaguares and the players were freed to go and play in Europe. Hence nearly all of their current squad have been playing in the top European competitions, meaning they are battle-ready.