Former Puma Mario Ledesma has admitted his surprise following his quick elevation to head coach of the Argentina national team.
The 45-year-old was given a four-year deal to coach Argentina just six months after he took the helm of the Jaguares Super Rugby side, where he led the club to their first finals appearance.
“Being the captain of the ship fills me with pride. I’m not intimidated by the pressure,” Ledesma said.
“I went to Australia as a spy, just in case I would come back to coach in Argentina,” said Ledesma.
“I didn’t think I would come back so soon. I’d always dreamed of coaching the Pumas.”
When Ledesma was named Jaguares coach at the start of 2018, not many expected the franchise would play knock-out rugby in just their third season.
In their first campaign under Ledesma, the Jaguares scored impressive away victories in New Zealand – against the Chiefs and Blues – and Australia – at the Rebels and Brumbies – as part of an incredible seven-match winning streak.
Unfortunately, their performance at the Super Rugby level failed to translate during the June international window. Argentina lost all three of their fixtures, losing twice at home to Wales before being thumped by Scotland. Ledesma’s predecessor Daniel Hourcade announced his resignation during the series.
“We need to improve as a team. It’s defence that wins you games,” said Ledesma.
“When we’re on top we’re dangerous and we score, but when we’re under the cosh we concede too many points.”
Argentina have failed to beat a tier one opponent for close to two years, and have fallen to 10th in the World Rugby rankings, a far cry from the form of Ledesma’s side that finished third at the Rugby World Cup in 2007.
Ledesma will make his coaching debut with Argentina with a trip to South Africa. Los Pumas will take on South Africa on August 18, the opening fixture of their Rugby Championship campaign.
In other news:
RugbyPass has created a next generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!