State of the Nation: Argentina

Date published: November 5 2015

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As we do at the end of a major tournament, we look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Argentina!

One of the major success stories at the recent Rugby World Cup, Argentina finished fourth and played some excellent rugby along the way.

Albeit progressing from a favourable pool, the highlight of their campaign came in the last eight when they beat Ireland 43-20 in Cardiff. Unfortunately they seemed over-emotional in their semi-final against Australia and their charge unravelled before an injury-hit side lost out to South Africa in the Bronze Medal fixture. Nothing though can take away the show they put on for their supporters and the neutrals.

Argentina won many admirers along the way with a mixture of power and attacking skills and gameplan one of the memories of the World Cup.

Many will point to their inclusion in the Rugby Championship as being the catalyst for Argentina's progression up to fourth in the latest rankings and they would be right in that respect, with praise also reserved for the coaching of the next batch of talent in the country.

Argentina now boast a great deal of depth in many positions, particularly in the back-row as names like Javier Ortega Desio and Facundo Isa joined the more established players of Pablo Matera, Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Juán Martín Fernández Lobbe up front.

They could be even stronger in the second row where Guido Petti and Tomás Lavanini look ready to be the lock partnership for the next decade after shining at the age of 20 and 22 respectively.

Martín Landajo and Tomás Cubelli performed well while fly-half Nicolás Sánchez finished top of the points scoring table in the World Cup, backing up his Rugby Championship form as one of the best number tens in the tournament. Having just turned 27, he's good for Japan 2019.

One player who won't be around in four years' time is Juan Martín Hernández but he again rolled back the years this World Cup, forming a strong partnership with Marcelo Bosch while the deadly Santiago Cordero and Juan Imhoff were outstanding. The latter crossed five times.

What was noticeable in Argentina's squad this World Cup was a real togetherness and family feel, particularly between head coach Daniel Hourcade and captain Agustín Creevy, who led them superbly well whilst other senior players chipped in such as Lobbe and Marcos Ayerza.

With a new Super Rugby franchise set to be another step in the right direction, 2019 could well see Argentina pushing hard for the top prize yet again.

Yes, they are likely to be without Lobbe, Hernández and possibly Ayerza, who will be 36, but the talent is definitely coming through as we've witnessed in 2015 from centre Matías Moroni and many more. The future is most certainly bright for Pumas rugby.

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