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Rugby Championship state of play 2017: Argentina

SANTA FE, ARGENTINA - JUNE 17: The Argentina team line up prior to the International Test match between Argentina and England at Estadio CA Colon on June 1
Image: Argentina will be looking to make their mark on this year's Rugby Championship after a disappointing 2017 so far

We take a look at the state of play in Argentina ahead of the 2017 Rugby Championship.

Mixed form

Argentina go into this year's Rugby Championship on the back of two defeats to an under-strength England side leaving them with one win in 10 tests since they beat South Africa 12 months ago.

Despite not recording a victory in the summer against Eddie Jones' men, positives did exist for the Pumas. It took a late try from replacement Denny Solomona to undo them in San Juan, before a youthful England were once more pushed all the way by the Pumas, who thrived on the raucous atmosphere generated by a near-capacity crowd of 29,750 at Estadio CA Colon in Santa Fe a week later.

Argentina's Los Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez (C) runs through a tackle by England's hooker Dylan Hartley (L) during the Rugby Union test match at B
Image: Juan Martin Hernandez on the attack for Argentina

A subsequent 45-29 win over Georgia would have boosted the confidence but Daniel Hourcade's men will be all to aware of the much stiffer test that awaits them.

Jaguares start to step up

After an underwhelming debut campaign which saw them secure just four wins in their 15 fixtures, conceding 427 points in the process the Jaguares failed to kick on after impressing during the early stages of the competition.

Although they have improved from 13th in their inaugural season last year to finish in 10th position on the overall table, there were plenty of similarities to their 2016 campaign which once again hampered their impact on the competition.

Argentina Jaguares right wing Santiago Cordero (L) scores a try in front of Australias Melbourne Rebels scrum half Nic Stirzarer (R) during the Super Rugby
Image: Santiago Cordero (L) dives over for a try against the Rebels

Like their debut campaign, the men from Buenos Aries finished third in the Africa 2 conference, however they did show improvements accumulating 11 more points than the year before.

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However, this year did see the Jaguares secure two victories in Australia, an impressive 40-27 victory over the Waratahs before backing up the historic win with a further success against the Rebels.

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Indiscipline proved to be a consistent problem for head coach Raul Perez and his side as they amassed 12 yellow cards during 2017, four more than their previous season and one less than the Reds who boasted the league's worst record for the campaign.

While the Jaguares struggled to adapt to the demands of Super Rugby expect a very different mindset when those players pull on their national jersey ahead of their Rugby Championship opener, against South Africa, the side they defeated in Durban last year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Captain Agustin Creevy (L) of Argentina and his players sing the national anthem prior to kickoff during the Old Mutual Wea
Image: Captain Agustin Creevy (L) leads the national anthem ahead of Argentina's summer test against England

For them playing international rugby provides a different motivation, that of national pride and while many of those players featured for the Super Rugby side, the inclusion of those plying their trade in Europe's top competitions will be sure to add an extra dimension and different outlook to their squad.

Traditional forward power

Argentina's forward play has a reputation for being hard-nosed and no-nonsense, an ever-present weapon in their armour providing a stern test for anyone that stands in their way and over the years have established themselves as one of the most feared scrummaging units in world rugby.

It was scrummaging power that saw Argentina enter the Rugby Championship, finally getting the consistent test rugby they deserved and it was this component of their game that gave Argentina a convincing 18-25 win over England at Twickenham in 2006 while their forward power was still visibly at the fore when they secured an impressive third place at the 2007 World Cup.

A scrum collapses during the Rugby Championship International test match between Argentina and Australia at Twickenham stadium in south west London on Octo
Image: Argentina have looked to expand their style beyond a formidable scrummaging outfit in recent years

Their country has produced some of the finest front-row talent world rugby has to offer, an endless production line of fearsome warriors in recent years, while they have still been competitive at scrum-time their desire to develop their attacking game has often left them caught between opposing styles.

However, Hourcade has once again voiced the importance of this area to his side as he looks to merge the two opposing styles and produce props that do more than scrummage.

Despite the 38-34 and 35-25 defeats to an England side without its British and Irish Lions players in June, the Argentinian head coach was satisfied with the work put in by his side and while the scrum once provided Argentina with a point of difference evidence that the Pumas were starting to shift towards the more-rounded forward players demanded by the modern game.

Argentina's Los Pumas hooker Agustin Creevy (C) is tackled by Georgia's prop Soso Bekoshvili (L) and prop Mikheil Nariashvili during their Rugby Union test
Image: Argentina's hooker Agustin Creevy (C) barges over for a try against Georgia


Forwards: Agustin Creevy, Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Santiago Garcia Botta, Lucas Noguera Paz, Ramiro Herrera, Enrique Pieretto, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Lezana, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Benjamin Macome, Rodrigo Baez, Leonardo Senatore.

Backs: Martin Landajo, Tomas Cubelli, Gonzalo Bertranou, Nicolas Sanchez, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Bautista Ezcurra, Juan Martin Hernandez, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Manuel Montero, Ramiro Moyano, Santiago Cordero, Joaquin Tuculet, Emiliano Boffelli.

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