Pumas playing 'southern' rugby

2015-10-23 19:22
Matias Moroni

Bagshot - Argentina's Matias Moroni is part of a new generation of Pumas making their mark at the Rugby World Cup with a daring attacking game that has yielded 26 tries in five matches and a place in the semi-finals.

The 24-year-old marked his seventh cap with an early try, his second of the tournament, to send Argentina on their way to a 43-20 victory over Ireland in the quarter-finals in Cardiff, earning a clash with Australia at Twickenham this Sunday.

Moroni came into the World Cup with four caps, one of which was in this year's home defeat by Australia in July in the Rugby Championship - the elite annual southern-hemisphere tournament that has helped develop Argentina into a real force.

"Graham Henry had a lot do to with it when he worked with (former Pumas coach Santiago) 'Tati' Phelan, trying to introduce that game the New Zealanders have, the southern rugby," Moroni told Reuters.

"Before, the Pumas had a more closed game, with more kicks. It was more strategic but you can't change from one day to the next.

"The first couple of years were very hard. There were no victories to celebrate. Maybe two years ago there was criticism that we were being a bit careless or taking too many risks, even in our half, and the same this year when we lost to Australia. Many things were questioned, like why didn't we kick more."

However, that defeat at home in Mendoza was followed by Argentina's brilliant 37-25 victory over South Africa in Durban which made observers sit up and take note.

Moroni did not play in that closing Rugby Championship match but was a part of the 26-12 home defeat when the Springboks got their revenge a week later in the two teams' final World Cup warm-up.

"This process in which 'Huevo' (Hourcade) has been in charge: he went putting into the players' heads that they could play this rugby, and the players, too, convincing themselves they could play this game," Moroni said.

"Good results show we can  It's believing in the system, in the coaches having confidence in us and then it's up to us to take those risks and try to carry through what we practise in the week," said Moroni, who made his World Cup debut in the pool win over Tonga then moved to the wing against Namibia before replacing suspended Marcelo Bosch at outside centre last weekend against the Irish.

Moroni came into the Pumas' set-up 16 months ago, making his debut as a replacement in a 21-19 home loss to Scotland in Cordoba in an experimental side which did not include the bulk of the players Hourcade had in mind for the Rugby Championship later in the season.

He graduated from his club CUBA (Club Universitario de Buenos Aires), through junior Argentina ranks to the sevens side, where he played alongside Santiago Cordero, the wing who had a part in his try against the Irish, and then the second-string Pampas XV.

"I'm grateful for all I learnt in sevens. It was a stage I enjoyed a lot. It gave me many tools I use today on the pitch and which now come naturally to me," Moroni said.

"We're all very young. Let's hope this experience is good for our future. Today we have a very important match in front of us, the most important of our careers, and we don't know when the chance to play such a match will come again. It's up to us to give our maximum."



15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale

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