Former Los Pumas star takes over coaching reins from Michael Cheika

David Skippers
Michael Cheika and Felipe Contepomi Argentina v SA 2023 - Alamy.jpg

Michael Cheika and his replacement as Argentina head coach, Felipe Contepomi.

The Argentine Rugby Union UAR have announced that Michael Cheika’s reign as Los Pumas head coach has come to an end and that he will be replaced by his assistant Felipe Contepomi.

Contepomi has been part of Cheika’s backroom staff for the past 18 months and has agreed terms on a contract with the UAR through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

Promoted to head coach in 2022

Cheika was initially part of Argentina‘s coaching staff as an assistant and external adviser but assumed the responsibility as head coach when Mario Ledesma stepped down from the position at the start of 2022.

Under Cheika’s guidance, Los Pumas claimed victories over the All Blacks in New Zealand, the Wallabies in Australia, and England at Twickenham. He also guided Argentina to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in France this year, where they lost to the All Blacks.

“Having been the head coach of Los Pumas fills me with pride, and it is one of the experiences that I enjoyed the most in my career as a coach,” Cheika told the UAR’s official website.

“Although I was born in Australia, a big part of me will be Argentina. I am convinced that Felipe and his staff are going to lead the team in the best way.”

Cheika has a coaching career spanning more than two decades (he began his career in 1999) and was in charge of Australia when they reached the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final, which they lost to New Zealand.

He was Leinster’s head coach and Contepomi, the Irish province’s fly-half, when they won the Champions Cup in 2009.

Contepomi is a Los Pumas legend who made 87 Test appearances for his country between 1998 and 2013 and helped them reach the World Cup semi-finals in France in 2007.

The 46-year-old paid tribute to Cheika, saying it was an honour to have worked under the Australian as Argentina’s attack coach and that he is “grateful for the extraordinary opportunity”.

Started coaching career in 2014

Since his retirement as a player in 2014, Contepomi had coaching stints with the Argentina XV and Super Rugby outfit the Jaguares before returning to Leinster. Cheika brought him back to Argentina as part of his coaching staff in 2022.

UAR president Gabriel Travaglini thanked Cheika for his services.

“His professionalism, passion and dedication to Argentine rugby is something we will remember forever,” Travaglini said.

“Today, we are convinced that Felipe is the right person for this new path towards Australia 2027.”

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