Friday 22 November 2019

Pumas win built on emotion

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade celebrates with fans following their 43-20 World Cup quarter-final victory over Ireland.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade celebrates with fans following their 43-20 World Cup quarter-final victory over Ireland.

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade spoke of an emotion-filled Pumas dressing room after the South Americans ended Ireland's World Cup dream in Cardiff.

The exhilarating Pumas scored four tries to set up a semi-final showdown with Australia next weekend, their 43-20 victory their first over Ireland since the 2007 World Cup in France.

Argentina's only concern on a momentous day at the Millennium Stadium was a leg injury to their skipper Agustin Creevy, the hooker forced off in the closing stages with an injury which could threaten his participation in the Twickenham semi-final.

But the enduring images were of Argentina players crying before kick-off as the national anthem played and the sight of exciting backs crossing the Ireland line from free-flowing moves.

"It's part of our DNA, we play with our heart in our hand," Hourcade said after Argentina reached a World Cup semi-final for only the second time in their history.

"We feel it inside and the players show this on the pitch before the game.

"It was the same after the game, it was very emotional.

"My mum is ill so that made me emotional as well.

"Also with the anthem the emotion that we feel then translates on the pitch as well, and that's the most important thing."

Argentina's only previous World Cup semi-final appearance came in France eight years ago, but that was based on forward power alone rather than an all-round game which the Pumas currently possess.

But the Pumas have sharpened their attacking claws since the Rugby Championship was formed in 2012 and they joined southern hemisphere super-powers Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a four-team competition.

That quartet will now make the semi-final line-up at this World Cup after Australia sneaked past Scotland in the final quarter-final, and Hourcade said the growth of Argentinian rugby in the last three years had been enormous.

"Since 2012 we started changing, we started building," Hourcade said.

"It's not something that has just started, it goes a long way back.

"But since that moment it was even more important.

"Playing the best on a yearly basis requires a level of perfection that makes you get used to it.

"This kind of game becomes normal, plus we like it.

"This is how we feel about it and the players like carrying it through."

Pumas back-rower Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said Argentina had achieved their pre-tournament objectives by guaranteeing themselves at least seven games, with a semi-final and either a final or a bronze medal match to come.

"We had some objectives at the start of the tournament, the first was to qualify and the second was to play seven games," Fernandez Lobbe said.

"Now we want to play on Saturday the 31st (in the final).

"It's going to be very tough, but it's really nice because there's nothing bigger than a World Cup.

"To deliver like that today is awesome.

"We saw the Wallabies in the summer, they have a very good team and a very good breakdown.

"They play with a lot of freedom but it is a semi-final and we need to give everything on the pitch."

PA Media

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