How Olympic bronze inspired Argentina’s SVNS meteoric rise
For the world’s best athletes, the opportunity to represent their nation at the Olympic Games is the result of years and years of hard work, sacrifice and unwavering commitment.
It’s an honour like no other in sport, and it’s captured the imaginations of the best SVNS players on the circuit. Every four years, rugby players realise their Olympic dreams.
While some join the exclusive club of SVNS gold medallists at the Games, that’s not the only prize to fight for on the world’s biggest sporting stage. These men and women transcend their roles as athletes as they forge a legacy for others to follow.
The Argentina rugby sevens team fought valiantly for a once unlikely bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics a couple of years ago. While they fell short of gold, it was the start of something special.
It was a turning point for Los Pumas Sevens, who up until that point had only ever won three cup finals on the men’s SVNS Series. But the dawn of a new era was upon them.
Following the Games, Argentina had the confidence to take on the rugby SVNS world – and it’s completely transformed their program.
Argentina have won four cup finals since Vancouver in 2022, and the South Americans fell heartbreakingly short of another title in their first-ever Dubai decider last weekend.
But for a team that’s never won the overall title on the series – finishing last season with a best-ever finish of second behind champions New Zealand – Argentina has arrived as a genuine sevens force.
“After Tokyo, with the bronze medal, we realised that we could be in the top three so the season after Tokyo I think we stayed fourth or third in the grid and last season (we were) second with three championships, three gold medals.
“It motivates you always when you’re at the top but it was a long process that people like Gaston Revol, Santiago Alvarez and German Schulz were in sevens since 2016.
“They passed the bat… and now to be up there, we’re happy for the team and we’re happy for them for the effort that they put in to build this team, to carry us as team leaders. Really happy.”
With a breakout season in the SVNS Series in 2022/23 now behind them, Los Pumas Sevens are looking to not only maintain that level of excellence and success but improve it.
Argentina ended a 14-year cup final drought when they defeated Fiji at the Vancouver Sevens in mid-April 2022.
But little did the world know that when veteran Gaston Revol lifted the trophy in Canada on that fateful night, it was the start of something transformative.
After another three cup wins – including a victory over the All Blacks Sevens in New Zealand earlier this year – Argentina prepared for another crunch clash as they looked to book a place in their first-ever Dubai final.
It came down to the wire at The Sevens Stadium in the UAE desert but Argentina defeated sevens rivals New Zealand 21-19 in an enthralling semi-final clash.
“Emotions (are) happy. We’re always looking to play these sorts of matches: quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals,” Moneta said with a smile stretched across his face.
“There’s a big road to Paris and all of these matches will help.
“Versing New Zealand, nowadays they’re the best in sevens rugby – they demonstrated that last season. We always want to play with them to improve ourselves, improve our team. Really happy for the win.
“I’m really proud for the team,” he added.
“As kids, we are born and if we watch rugby then New Zealand is up there always so to beat New Zealand, it’s incredible.
“Last season we played four matches, we only won the final in Hamilton… really happy for the win.”
Argentina were beaten in the final by serial Dubai SVNS champions South Africa – with the Blitzboks winning their eighth final in 10 events in the UAE.
But Los Pumas Sevens should hold their heads up high. As a genuine heavyweight of the sport nowadays, they have an opportunity to bounce back in Cape Town this weekend.
Drawn in a pool alongside Fiji, France and Spain, Argentina will have their work cut out for them though as they look to create even more history on the SVNS Series.