Jaguares win at Eden Park supports new found ‘sense of identity’

Jaguares win at Eden Park supports new found 'sense of identity'
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The Jaguares win at Eden Park Saturday night supports a new found ‘sense of identity’ that head coach Mario Ledesmo is forming within the South American team. An identity that may find them gaining much needed confidence in their assault on the South African conference in 2018.

“I think trying to raise a sense of belonging, a sense of identity over there is important,” is the honest reaction from Ledesmo, when asked about what’s been important to change at the Jaguares.

The results have changed too. No longer a ‘kicking ball’ for other South African conference teams – even though wins in the republic are still just as difficult to come by, as in New Zealand. For the Jaguares, recent success is starting to prove the doubters wrong [thus far].

Jaguares win at Eden Park a first for Franchise

Ledesma was buoyant after the match, his side even playing loud music and showing their gratitude immediately after the final whistle with a gathered group of South American supporters. Their coach said it was a positive “they do it all the time [the music]. But it’s huge for us. Winning over here in New Zealand….well, we never could. It’s big, it’s big.”

And the first win by the franchise should be celebrated.

Celebrated to a degree, but the manner in which they have succeeded over three consecutive weekends cannot be overlooked. It is hard enough for any team to claim victories in Super Rugby; at home or away, so for the Jaguares to achieve this feat is huge.

For the incoming coach, he has used his experience in Australian Super Rugby to help the players to improve on where they were. The Jaguares had tasted some success, but 2018 is generating new highs – including three wins in a row.

He said that his aims were “learning how to be the best professionals we can. And learning to work harder. Transcending themselves, learning to be resilient. The thing that we worked the most, is mentally.

“I believe we have a quality to compete against everybody. I don’t think we were resilient enough. I really didn’t think we believed that we could think that we could compete against anybody.”

Those answers to questions, shows how the new coach has shown his emotions. His players actions might have given this coaching team a cardiac arrest (at times). Their inability to handle the conditions put them under pressure. But gladly for their fans and coaching staffs, they were able to ‘tick off’ another box on their monumental journey in 2018.

No consideration of Playoffs for Jaguares…..yet

“I don’t want to talk about this. I might get scared,” but his humility on the topic is similar to other head coaches. They do not want to get ahead of themselves. That was not surprising for the gathered media, as many coaches want to play it one-game-at-a-time.

After the Jaguares win at Eden Park, Ledesmo was asked if he was surprised how the Blues did not take advantage of the wind? “Yes. Especially those first five minutes. They went phase after phase after phase, and I’m going ‘what are they thinking?’ For sure, they were in front. They could have played for territory, and put us under pressure. Yes I was surprised.”

Stephen Perofeta of the Blues looks on during the Super Rugby round 11 match between the Blues and Jaguares at Eden Park on April 28, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

His assertion was matched by his opposition coach, Tana Umaga. Asked a similar question, Umaga did not want to point any player out but, his description was “we didn’t execute a plan. The team just thought we would ‘park that first 40 minutes, and it would just happen’. It needed players to drive that plan, and that didn’t happen.”

Pleasingly for the visitors too. They managed to score the first win over an New Zealand Super Rugby team. Quite possibly, the players and their fans will still be celebrating. Only natural too, but for Mario Ledesma, the feeling is that they will take stock, be considerate of the significance….and then, move towards the next goal; the Chiefs next Friday in Rotorua.

The playoffs are not a realistic expectation….yet. Continue in the same vein, show that sense of identity, and achieve more results in the republic, then…..and only then, let supporters think about the next step-up for the Jaguares.

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