Former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot has urged the Pumas’ current generation to forget the team’s heroics at Rugby World Cup 2007 and write their own history when they launch their latest assault on the sport’s biggest prize.
Pichot was central to the team’s memorable run eight years ago when they beat tournament hosts France twice on their way to a best-ever third-place finish.
The performance helped pave the way for their entry into The Rugby Championship which in turn has fuelled belief ahead of this year’s tournament that will see them tackle defending champions New Zealand, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia in the pool stages.
“Everyone in Argentina now knows you can do things that some people have told you are impossible,” insists Pichot.
“If they told you we were going to beat France in the opening game in 2007 you would have said ‘no way’, but now that it has happened then why not again.
“They may have that in their mindset but I think they will just try and make their own huge impact. Maybe the All Blacks at Wembley? You can do it.”
But the Pumas chances of surprising anyone have been impacted by their promotion to the high-profile battle for southern hemisphere supremacy.
“Hopefully they can still surprise,” said Pichot, “although I don’t think it is going to be a World Cup of surprises. The only teams that have the real potential to surprise you are Tonga, Fiji and Samoa because you just don’t know enough about them.”
While Pichot has long since swapped his boots for the boardroom, current squad members Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Leguizamon, Juan Martin Hernandez and Horacio Agulla are able to offer a direct link back to 2007 and will be key to conjuring the team spirit that was key to their success.
“We created something special,” he explained. “Nobody expected us to be there and we played our hearts out. Those moments are very difficult to achieve and need teams to perform as a collective, like England in 2003 and South Africa in 1995.
“In 2003 you knew that England had it, the team felt invincible. Those times are very rare in the world of sport and I was very proud of it and to lead it. But it was more about the feeling rather than the result.
“Wherever I go in the world, people ask me about it. Even people from other sports come up to me and say, ‘what a team you guys had in 2007’.
“World rugby says that was a great team, it was a great Argentinean team and I am very proud that I was part of it.
“We reached outside of the sport. I tell them we didn’t win the World Cup and came third, but they still say we had a team that gave 100%. That means there is a legacy there, we have left something to the game of rugby.”
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