Devastated Jaguares see bright World Cup future
Christchurch - The
Jaguares were devastated to lose the Super Rugby final to the defending
champions Crusaders on Saturday, but said their breakout
season has set Argentina up nicely for the Rugby World Cup.
After losing four of their first six games at the start of their
fourth year in Super Rugby, the Jaguares stormed home winning 11 of the
next 12 before falling to the All Blacks-laden Crusaders 19-3 in
Saturday's final in Christchurch.
Even then the Crusaders, the most prolific try-scoring team in the
competition, could only cross the line once and had to rely on penalties
"That was almost the only try opportunity they had even if we were
under pressure several times," coach Gonzalo Quesada said as he praised
his side's defence.
"I think the only frustration I have is we couldn't score a try."
Many of the Jaguares, who will provide the bulk of the Pumas heading
to the World Cup in Japan later this year, were distraught at losing a
final they were not expected to win.
As they wept openly, Quesada saw that as a positive for Argentina
with the Rugby Championship and then the World Cup ahead of them.
"The guys are in tears because they went through a hell of a season," he said.
"But it's good to know there is no mediocrity. Because if they were
happy just to be in the final their (state of) mind is not what we
"I think it was something quite historical. No one could have
imagined this a couple of years ago, even at the beginning of this
Quesada quoted successful All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as
maintaining "belief" is a big factor for players and saw that as the key
improvement for the Jaguares.
"I think our biggest achievement this season was that this team
believed in themselves, in what they were doing and what they were
trying to do.
"With that big confidence they will start the Rugby Championship and prepare for the World Cup.
"There were no injuries so the (World Cup) group will be this group
plus all the international players who are in Europe, so I think that is
a massive way of starting the preparation."
Pumas coach Mario Ledesma has brought in Europe-based forwards Juan
Figallo (Saracens), Facundo Isa (Toulon), Ramiro Herrera (Stade
Francais) and backs Nicolas Sanchez (Stade Francais) and Benjamin
Urdapilleta (Castres) to his World Cup squad.
But he has left out prominent wings Juan Imhoff (Racing 92) and
Santiago Cordero (Exeter) believing the position is sufficiently covered
by the Argentina-based Jaguares players.
Argentina, who reached the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup, are in
Pool C for the World Cup in Japan along with England, France, USA and