July 21st, 2024

Argentina intends to take unwanted World Cup third-place game seriously

By The Associated Press on October 21, 2023.

PARIS (AP) – Argentina is serious about the Rugby World Cup third-place game that nobody likes to play.

The Pumas were lumped with the unwanted playoff after losing their semifinal against New Zealand 44-6 on Friday at Stade de France.

The so-called bronze final is next Friday, the day before the final. The Pumas will face South Africa or England, who had their semifinal late Saturday.

The Pumas have never reached the final but have played for third place twice – winning in 2007 and losing in 2015.

Juan Fernandez Lobbe played in both games, and was back with Argentina as an assistant coach.

“It is a very important game,” he said on Saturday. “Go out, play a good game, improve what we did this weekend and end with the medal hanging. The same determination in my voice is that of everyone.

“It means going on Friday with total determination, with our way, our weapons. It would be a very good closing of the World Cup.

“It would speak of one more brick in the construction of this team, of a team that learns from its mistakes.”

Fernandez Lobbe said Argentina played the way it wanted to in the semifinal but the All Blacks – “a team that trusts the tools it has” – were on another level.

“It was 180 seconds in which we went from 15-6 to 27-6,” he said. “A scrum at the end of the first half, penalty, lineout, they score a try. Second half, kickoff, knock-on, try.

“In the first half we had good actions, but they could not be transformed into points. The first half was played the way we wanted to play it, with determination, playing where we wanted to play, kicking where we wanted to kick. But there were one, two moments that were not good.

“Tactically, the team was there, technically there were situations. We must continue insisting on the details. The World Cup amplifies everything, more so against a three-time world champion team that knows what they have to do.”

The Pumas went through 14 phases in the first two minutes then conceded possession with a nothing grubber kick.

They had another 10 phases in the 16th minute but had an isolated ball-carrier stripped.

They had nine phases in the 22nd when unguarded ruck ball was pinched.

There were 12 phases in the 33rd which finished with their second penalty kick.

All Blacks tries just before and just after halftime ended any hope of reaching their first final.

“The disappointment is very, very big,” Fernandez Lobbe said. “We came to want to play in the final and we can’t. The team is very clear, and they made it clear yesterday, that finishing with a medal is important.

“I am convinced that the team has the focus and determination to have an excellent game and win on Friday. I saw it in their faces, in their expressions, and I could feel it.”


AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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