Between questions and questions, how does the future of Los Pumas continue after fourth place in the World Cup?
He Argentine national team ended the world Cup in fourth place, a position that reflects much more than what was achieved as a result of their game, which they were only able to impose on the field from time to time. Without a fixed driver, nor with a singing voice to wake them up at critical moments, only individual arrests appearedmore than a team structure so that those led by Michael Cheika did not end up conforming in the eyes of the numerous Argentine supporters who came to France to encourage them throughout the tournament and even those who from their homes did "the hang in there” in every match.
It is clear that Michael Cheika and his assistant Felipe Contepomi are the ones who made the decisions of a staff convinced of their work and their proposals; which did not vary much throughout the tournament. Just some individual flashesvery little associated and balanced play during each matches, and the lack of certainty in decision-making, added to their own mistakes, were the common denominator of a team that, despite all these shortcomings, managed to finish among the four best teams in the World Cup.
If we look at it from that final position, it is a more than important achievement for Los Pumas, taking into account that below them were the home team, France, the powerful Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the disappointment of the World Cup: Australia. Even Contepomi himself was in charge of highlighting it in a note he gave to a European media on Wednesday saying that neither Argentina nor England were the third or fourth team in the world, that Ireland and France were the best and that South Africa was below them. and New Zealand… Opinions? Realities? Surely yes, they sounded a little loud two days after their team went to look for nothing less than the bronze medal, trying to defeat England, to try to remain in the great history of world rugby as the second team, which just as than the one in 2007, achieved that great objective.
Now, if one looks at it from the perspective of the game itself, What Contepomi says is real and then we will be left with that bittersweet taste of what could have been and was not, thinking that the team never finished showing what it played, or what that famous plan was that the staff mentioned over and over again. Nor did we understand many times the starting lineup, which in some cases supported what was done by some members of the squad so as not to change the lineup and in other cases they left players on the substitute bench who fulfilled their duties when it was their turn to enter.
In this way and despite everything, Argentina repeated, like every eight years, being able to finish the tournament among the best four teams in the world (2007, 2015 and 2023) and statistically he once again stuck his nose in among the powers of world rugby, despite not having shown his game in almost any game except in the second half against Wales and England.
How is this understood? Simple. The fixture gave Argentina a hand, had only England as a rival to fear, whom when he had to face first in the debut, he arrived at his worst moment and then in the rematch he knew how to find a way back to endure it and take the bronze. The doubts from the debut grew internally, and the message arose outward that they had to play “a final” in each subsequent match against Samoa, Chile and Japan, something that although was true, because if they lost again they would be eliminated. and with no chance of moving on to the next round; In no way were those three teams up to par, both individually and collectively, with these Pumas.
Even so, extreme resources had to be exerted to be able to keep these parties afloat. With the appearance of the historic scorer Nicolás Sánchez and with an exceptional Mateo Carreras, the figure of Marcos Kremer and Guido Petti surpassing themselves in each game, the traditional delivery of Moroni, the polenta of Mendoza's Juan González and the sporting embarrassment of Creevy In the short time that he joined, the team in general put their best foot forward and became leaders of a group that with self-love and pride, more than with collective play, managed to qualify for the next phase to start again from scratch, but without the heavy backpack of failure on your shoulder; as happened with Mario Ledesma in Japan 2019, when he could not overcome the first round.
And then here came Wales, to face each other in those quarterfinals, in by far the best Puma production with the second half of England's revenge. With Wales after an even first half, in the second they let loose and played the best forty minutes of the tournament to be able to access the semifinal against New Zealand and excited everyone and everyone about being one step away from the final itself. , that place through which according to the staff and the protagonists themselves they had arrived in France.
But of course, reality hit them again. There were no longer in front Red dragons and its apathetic second half, but some All Blacks thirsty for revenge from the 2019 World Cup, convinced of wanting to keep the World title, with all that that means, and except in the first half hour of the match, where it was close only in the result and after an enormous effort, then , there was no longer any chance of being in the game.
Thus came the fight for the bronze medal, another great prize, to take revenge on England, and we should not let it pass. Some changes were expected in the team, perhaps to give it a bit of freshness, but that was not the case, The staff opted for the same structure to try to bring back that illusion that had been left behind in the semifinals, but there were no surprises.
Despite leaving everything, “Die with our own” was again the message from the staff, and on this occasion fortune was not on the Argentine side, which came close to winning the bronze with an excellent comeback in the second half. But it couldn't be and so they had to settle for this fourth place in the World Cup. A shame, and a lot of anger. On the one hand because of the lost opportunity and the disappointment of a group that left everything and on the other hand because they were very close to being able to say presents and there was the feeling that they missed it by very little, because of those details that make it stay with you more anger still.
There are several questions now to understand how Los Pumas will continue in the future. First we will have to know if Cheika, as he had announced, will stop being the national coach after the World Cup to give his place to Felipe Contepomi, his assistant. Then we will have to see who will stop playing on the team, by age and performance; And third, we must know how the next stage will be faced, taking into account that the players, as happened after the pandemic, will continue to be scattered around the world and with their minds set on their teams, in principle, more than on our national team.
We will have to wait for the competitions that will arrive next year in the July tours and the Rugby Championship. Meanwhile, the UAR continues looking for a tournament, to improve the level and try a second team as happened with Jaguares before the pandemic that caused us so many problems, and finally we will have to promote the American Super League, which will undoubtedly continue with its franchises. being the test bed for the youngest, as well as those Pumitas who will participate in the Under 20 World Cup.
Yesterday, The Pumas left everything and couldn't, but despite everything they enjoy this fourth place, for their self-love and for those individuals who raised their hands at the right moments and brought out their traditional strength. That was enough for them to be in this privileged place among the twenty participants. Now, facing what is coming, we will have to shuffle and give again, work hard thinking about the immediate future and seek to define the best performers (staff and players) in the whole of a national rugby that, just like the South American one, does not Nothing will be easy between now and the next World Cup in Australia in 2027.
There is plenty of raw material, we all know it and they demonstrated it today, but it will take a lot of effort with the rest. That is the next challenge for whoever has to command it if they want to continue, at least like in the last stage every eight years, sticking their nose among the powerful of the oval world...
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