Jaguares Super Rugby success in 2019 was no accident, but rather the result of years of planning. They were given opportunities and they used all of them. This could prove to be an advantage to their national team, Los Pumas, in the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
The Jaguares were certainly not embarrassed in the Super Rugby final, playing away against the Crusaders in their first appearance in a final.
Jaguares Super Rugby
It would not be a surprise to must rugby lovers that the Jaguares have been so good in Super Rugby 2019 and there is a strong South African connection to this. They won the conference they compete in, the South African Conference. The connection is a stronger than this though. Ryan Jordan considers a few points that have put the Jaguares in this position. They have the rugby playing talent available to them and giving them the platform to display and develop that talent has reaped rich rewards.
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The recent Argentine connection with South African rugby as well as other Southern Hemisphere competitions started with the entry of the Pampas XV in what was then the third tier professional competition in South Africa, the Vocacom Cup in 2010. They won this tournament in 2011.
They withdrew from this competition at the end of the 2013, moving on to join the Pacific Rugby Cup. They won this competition at the first attempt in 2014. They repeated this feat in 2015.
Both of these competitions gave Argentine rugby the opportunity to blood new players and test them at a higher level than they were able to within their own local structures.
Argentina Rugby embraced the Jaguares
We would think that this would be a natural thing to do, but compare the process the Argentine Rugby Union put into place to the halfhearted attempt that the Japan Rugby Football Union made with the Sunwolves. The Sunwolves was not representative of the very best that Japanese rugby has to offer and it is not by coincidence the Sunwolves will be cut from Super Rugby after the 2020 season.
The Argentine Rugby Union went in the other direction. They took the opportunity to contract the bulk of their players who would normally have migrated to Europe to ply their trade in a home based Super Rugby team. It was obvious to most rugby pundits, Phil Kearns and Mark Ella excluded, that bringing two teams into the competition who were the sole representatives from their countries came with a “risk”. A Super Rugby team could be created from mostly Test players as each country could put all their proverbial eggs in one basket.
Argentine Rugby did this and have for the first time ever played in a Super Rugby final and produced a credible performance, albeit in defeat. It remains to be seen if this translates to success in Rugby World Cup 2019.
It should not be forgotten that SA Rugby had the opportunity to condense their player resources into four teams instead of six, but chose to enter their two teams cut from Super Rugby into the PRO14 competition in Europe. Having a foot in both hemispheres is not really working at the moment, but time will tell if there was a genius strategy behind that decision.
Planning for the future – Jaguares XV
Rugby World Cup 2019 will decide if the Jaguares strategy was the correct one. The next phase of Argentine Rugby’s growth has already started though. A Jaguares XV has been entered into the First Division of the South African Currie Cup competition. To put it into perspective, there is a distinct gulf of quality between the First Division and the Premier Division. Most teams are made up club or journeyman players. Having said this the Jaguares currently lead the standings at the time of writing. Their next crop of talent is already being seeded with a view to the 2023 and 2027 Rugby World Cups.
Argentine rugby is on the up. They have been given opportunities to grow and retain their players and it has eventually started to pay off.
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