Jaguares Super Rugby final appearance a Los Pumas boost

The Jaguares Super Rugby final appearance is a reward for South American rugby. So long the ‘little brother’ who can, yet in 2019 it is a Los Pumas boost.

2019 will now be known for two reasons in South American rugby union circles. The 2019 Rugby World Cup of course, yet somehow this first Jaguares Super Rugby final appearance may be remembered for many years to come; see above video highlights.

On Friday, June 28, the Jaguares sealed that appearance with a supreme exhibition of confidence based rugby. They humbled the ACT Brumbies, and boosted the hopes of Los Pumas for the World Rugby tournament in September and October.

Jaguares Super Rugby final appearance a Los Pumas boost

Five tries, four conversions, and two penalties. Almost the perfect performance in an important knockout game, and in humbling the Australian Conference winning team, the Jaguares underlined their credentials for the 2019 season.

The most successful of the Super Rugby franchises four-year history, it must be seen as a truly meteoric rise to the top. With the Jaguares Super Rugby final place cemented, it was time to celebrate in Buenos Aires.

Joaquin Diaz Bonilla distributed the ball effectively, as the Jaguares passed the ball 194 times. Less kicking, more direct play saw them capitalize when they entered opposition territory. While they did not have a possession advantage [50%] but they did break tackles. Pablo Matera was a monster, who seemed to covered in grease, who slipped tackles, as did many Jaguares players.

Laurie Fisher’s men only achieved 76% in tackles completed. 31 defenders beaten – nowhere near what a professional rugby team desires in defence. Losing to the better side on the day, the ramifications for Australian rugby could only mean they need to work a little harder. Close, but not close enough.

For South American rugby, it means the world.

Second, behind football in popularity, rugby union has seen incredible support since the Jaguares were established. Surviving the cull; when Super Rugby reduced its format, that call is now seen as proof positive that Argentina are worthy of a Super Rugby franchise.

Argentina well placed for Rugby World Cup rewards

Just making the knockout stages is a reward. Add in now, a strong quarterfinal performance against the Chiefs, and this supreme result in defeating the Brumbies, you could be more than excited, to be a Los Pumas fan.

Los Pumas fans
Fans of Jaguares cheer for their team during a Super Rugby Semi Final match between Jaguares and Brumbies at JosÈ Amalfitani Stadium on June 28, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

Even with the mild complaints from rugby pundits, that the Jaguares are a shadow-Argentina side, it is not entirely reflective of the group’s achievements. They are a professional franchise, so players are focused on Super Rugby, and on their conference league [continues in 2020]. Their goals are specific, and not yet interchangeable with the national team.

Especially now, the goal is a maiden Super Rugby final.

Head coach Gonzalo Quesada must retain his player’s full attention, as they travel to Christchurch, to face the toughest opponent yet. The reigning Super Rugby champions, they will be hard to displace. Though, with a traveling band of supporters who will maintain their chanting and singing right to the 80th minute of the Grand Final. It might be that positive attitude away from home which is the reward for Los Pumas.

Winning away is difficult, yet the South American team have an admirable record in 2019. Defeating the Chiefs and the Hurricanes was a tremendous effort. It is that confidence, those learnings from this Jaguares season, that will then go on to reward the national team. Not vice versa, due to the prolonged season and the need to manage players welfare and to inspire for months on end.

Agustin Creevy is a leader who going into the Rugby World Cup, can be certain that he and Los Pumas coach Mario Ledesma will walk in high on enthusiasm to earn a place in the knockout stages.

Earning the Jaguares Super Rugby final appearance is a huge step forward. Planning a year out from the World Cup, Ledesma would never have presumed a place in the Grand Final. Knowing that now, his and millions of Los Pumas fans, will have a wider smile this week – and a grin when they look on to Tokyo in September.

 

“Main photo credit”

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