Saturday 27 December 2014

Argentina Diary: Cold shoulder for Andes on down day

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

The Andes
The Andes
Typical architecture in Tucuman, Argentina

The word 'intense' has echoed around the various conference rooms where Irish players have been speaking to the press over the last two weeks, but they finally got some well-earned downtime yesterday.

The problem is, they were left looking for something to do in Tucuman rather than Buenos Aires after making their way north on Tuesday.

San Miguel de Tucuman, to give the city its full title, is the capital of the Tucuman province, a region known for its beautiful landscapes – but the town is not known for its attractions.

Players looking for ideas could browse the 12 'things to do' including three parks and some dusty-looking museums on 'TripAdvisor', while 'WikiTravel' offers the opinion that "besides night action, the town itself has roughly speaking no outstanding features worthy of a visit".

Beyond the city limits is the 'Garden of the Republic', the Wicklow of Argentina if you will.

The Andes loom large on the horizon, a tantalising two-hour drive away but anyone who has seen the film 'Alive' knows very well that rugby teams and the Andes don't have a great history.

World Cup fever takes hold in rugby hotbed

While Tucuman is known as something of a Limerick-esque rugby hotbed, it's the round ball that's attracting most attention despite the Pumas' arrival on Monday.

After all, the World Cup kicks off tonight and there is growing anticipation that Argentina, with their handy draw, can do something special in Brazil.

It seems that the majority of the country's media has decamped across the border, with rolling news feeds coming from the team base in Rio around the clock and non-stop debate about team selection.

Lionel Messi's face greets you everywhere you go, with the nation's hopes resting on the Barcelona forward's diminutive shoulders.

Unfortunately football fever doesn't seem to have infected the Irish management with much enthusiasm.

Despite winning last year's media versus management football game, they look like declining the offer of a rematch this time around which is a pity really – but given 10 days on a diet of steak and Malbec, it might be for the best for all concerned.

Quote of the day

"The No 10 got underneath me and put me back on my hole... I mean, my bum. It wasn't exactly a fine moment in my career, but these things happen." – Jamie Heaslip recalls the moment where he was marched backwards by a combination of Nicolas Sanchez and Rodrigo Baez last Saturday.

Number of the day

278

Days that have elapsed since the season kicked off on September 6, 2013. In that space of time, 40 rounds of matches have been played ahead of Saturday's final game of the season between Ireland and Argentina in Tucuman.

Irish Independent

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