With the November internationals now done and dusted, we look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Argentina.
It has been a hectic year for the Pumas and some might say the next month off before Super Rugby 2017 preparations begin once more will be welcomed with open arms by the players. Add in no fresh legs from overseas-based players and they are surely hugely fatigued at the moment.
Argentina finished in last position in the Rugby Championship with just one win over South Africa to show for their efforts but there were some bright moments for the still young squad, with the first 50 minutes away to New Zealand definitely up there as being a positive sign.
Results though make for disappointing reading for Daniel Hourcade and his players as they’ve won just one of their last eight games, which came against Japan. Disappointing defeats to Wales, Scotland and finally England mean they head home with their tails between their legs.
The Welsh clash they should really have won as their hosts entered it on the back of a hammering to Australia with very little confidence and structure in their game. But Argentina were nowhere near their best as Rob Howley’s team edged it 24-20. A total of 20 missed tackles hurt them.
Getting back to winning ways against a rejuvenated Scotland was always going to be difficult and after leading 13-6 on 50 minutes, falling to a 19-16 defeat was a tough pill to swallow for the Pumas.
What made it worse was the late no-arm tackle which allowed Greig Laidlaw to win the game in added time. Hourcade would’ve been infuriated by the offence but it is on such moments they simply must make better calls.
It was then to Twickenham and a game against an England side riding high on confidence in 2016. Summoning one last performance that would stun their hosts was always going to be a difficult ask, but when wing Elliot Daly was sent-off after four minutes for a dangerous tackle, suddenly the prospect of a win was on the table.
Argentina didn’t grab it and would lose 27-14 to cap a dismal year following the standard they set during the 2015 World Cup when they finished fourth with performances that ran the likes of Ireland ragged and New Zealand close.
Let’s not say it’s all doom and gloom though for the Pumas as ticks on their end-of-year report card will go to the likes of Facundo Isa, who, at just 23, has developed into one of the best number eights around.
Meanwhile, Guido Petti, Ramiro Herrera, Agustín Creevy and many more have stood up well in the pack for both the Jaguares and Pumas with a good and crucial rest having been well earned by all involved.