Cape Town - Argentinian rugby is changing, according to Wallabies scrum coach and former Argentine international Mario Ledesma.
Ledesma played 84 Tests for Los Pumas before retiring in 2011 and said the South Americans were a different rugby beast now.
"My last game was five years ago so that's how much I know from them
now, I mean I've never been involved with the current coaching staff,"
Ledesma told rugby.com.au.
"Most of the players could be my sons. When
I played we didn't throw the ball around a lot and this team does it a
lot. So, the DNA's changed a little bit, they're focusing on other
Argentina’s offloading game against the All Blacks epitomised the improvement they have made, but it was no surprise to Ledesma.
"They worked for that," he said.
"Whenever they started playing Rugby Championship and now Super Rugby that was the main focus, on skills. I think they're doing a great job."
Ledesma said the inclusion
of the Jaguares in Super Rugby this season and the Pumas into the Rugby
Championship in 2012 has accelerated the development of Argentinian
rugby, simply by virtue of familiarising them with the world’s best.
Under the Super Rugby conference system, the Jaguares didn’t play any
Australian teams this time around but they did play all five New
"Even though the results weren't there (for the Jaguares), the
experience and the fact that they're playing against these players all
the time, makes it more tangible," Ledesma said.
"Before, they were only playing once every five years against
Australia, once every seven years against the All Blacks so it was
difficult to feel that you can beat them.
"Today they're playing week in, week out against them, then they play Rugby Championship. They've
got already a couple of wins under their belt so I think the whole
Super Rugby experience is exactly that, the experience of playing these
players week in, week out and knowing that they can beat them."
This weekend will be the third time Ledesma faces off against his
home nation and he said every match against the Pumas was significant.
"I get a lot of bagging over there, some calls and everybody treating
me like I'm a traitor or something but it's all good," he joked.
"It's a good thing that I'm in the stands and I'm not playing but it's always special. Obviously I played a long time for them and I'm a very proud Argentinian. The
team and the coaching staff over there, I'm really good friends with
and they've always been really supportive of what I'm doing over here so
there's no issues there."