Pumas coach Mario Ledesma believes his team’s scrum has been damaged after a rule change in Argentina’s domestic competition, potentially weakening their World Cup hopes.
The Argentine scrum has seen a dramatic shift from a serious strength to a significant weakness in recent years. Their scrum was decimated by the All Blacks during their two Rugby Championship fixtures earlier in the year, with the front row conceding 14 penalties across the pair of matches.
New scrummaging laws were introduced to Argentina’s club rugby competition two years ago after a string of serious injuries.
San Isidro Club prop Jeronimo Bello was left disabled after suffering a spinal cord injury during a collapsed scrum in a first division match 2016. After three other serious injuries to players that year, the UAR made strides to avoid further incidents.
With the exception of five metre scrums, teams in domestic competitions would be penalised for pushing more than one and a half metres.
Argentina’s domestic competitions are where the Pumas and Jaguares Super Rugby franchise source their talent.
“More than to me in particular, [the new law] is detrimental to all Argentine rugby,” Ledesma told AAP.
Ledesma said he doesn’t feel Argentina were outliers when it came to serious injuries suffered at scrumtime, but understands the Union’s position.
“I’d say that in Australia there are quite a few more than in Argentina,” the former Wallabies assistant coach said.
“Not only does it weaken Argentine scrummaging culture, which is part of our DNA, but it’s also part of a forward’s soul.
“Today scrums in Argentina last five or six seconds which is why the kids who come to us from their clubs are surprised by the hardness of a scrum, and if it lasts more than 10 seconds it discomforts them.
“You have to be able to enjoy that kind of wrestling and the bearing it has on other areas of the game.
“The cohesion you achieve in a team with a solid scrum and the psychological boost from that is immeasurable.”
Ledesma took over the national side in August after a successful Super Rugby campaign with the Jaguares, succeeding Daniel Hourcade.
Ledesma’s Argentina side have one last chance to right the ship in 2018, as they finish their campaign with a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
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