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League winners Argentina tackle ‘unusual’ challenge at SVNS Grand Final

By Finn Morton
Argentina players celebrate with the trophy after winning the SVNS League during day three of the HSBC SVNS Singapore at the National Stadium on May 05, 2024 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Argentina are sailing through uncharted waters at the moment. For a team that’s worked tirelessly since the Tokyo Olympics to be considered the best, now they’ve reached those heights by winning the League title, they’re faced with an “unusual” task.

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Los Pumas Sevens turned some heads at the Tokyo Games as they finished with a medal after beating Great Britain in the battle for bronze. But if you ask any of those players if they were shocked at what they achieved, they’ll tell you the same thing.

Players including Lautaro Bazan were in tears not because they were surprised, but rather, it was the overwhelming emotion of achieving something so special and historic. But they never doubted themselves.

They’ve channelled that same sense of confidence when they take the field on the SVNS Series.

The main difference between then and now is the Argies have turned their belief into gold medals and silverware. With coach Santiago Gomez Cora at the helm, Los Pumas Sevens have completely transformed themselves into consistent winners on the Series.

While they were beaten by South Africa in the Dubai final to open the 2023/24 season last December, Argentina went on to win in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver. It was an incredible winning streak that had fans the world over talking.

Eventually, after seven regular season events, they were rewarded after being crowned League winners in Singapore in early May. That minor premiership crown had players crying tears of joy at the National Stadium.

But with the Series offering the top eight teams a chance to be crowned overall champions at the Grand Final in Madrid, Argentina face the challenge of backing up their accomplishment in Spain’s capital and also at the Paris Olympics.

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As captain Santiago Alvarez explained, “It’s very difficult.

“It’s something that is unusual for us,” he told RugbyPass.

“We worked for too many years to be first in the League so we don’t know, this is very new to us.

“Trying to use that pressure to be useful for us, not thinking (about) what we did, just thinking what we have to correct for this game and trying to be better each game, each training, and forget that we (won the League).”

But if there’s a sense of pressure or expectation following the Argies this week, it’s not like you’d be able to tell going off their performance at Civitas Metropolitano on Friday.  In a brief summary, they couldn’t have been much better against Great Britain.

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In their first match at the home of Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid, Los Pumas Sevens got off to a perfect start with Joaquin Pellandini scoring two tries in as many minutes.

While Great Britain hit back through Api Bavadra just before half-time, it was one-way traffic from there as Argentina ran away with a statement 31-5 win. Rodrigo Isgro, Germain Schulz and Agustin Fraga were their second-half try scorers.

With a sea of blue and white shirts filling the stands, the passionate support for the League winners was impossible to ignore.

“Too many Argies over here,” Alvarez said with a smile. “It seems like we are in Argentina but very happy, very happy.

“For us, this is very unusual. We always play far away from home. Having some family, some friends, and the Argentina fans cheering for us is incredible.

“But we try not to think of that. We think of what we have to do and give what we can give to all those people.”

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 5 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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