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SANZAR is about to introduce a radical new bonus point system to this year’s Super Rugby competition, with teams no longer getting the bonus point for scoring 4 tries.
The radical proposal, which mirrors a system being used in the French top 14, will now see teams needing to score at least 3 more tries than the opposition to score a bonus point.
The change, which is set to be announced on Thursday in Australia, is a tweak to still encourage teams to play attractive rugby in lopsided contests, and give both sides something to play for, while not taking their foot off the pedal if they have established a good lead in their respective games.
Thus if a team scores 4 tries, they will need to limit the opposition to 1 try if they want the bonus point. If the opposition scores twice, then the team will need to score 5 tries in order to claim the bonus point in the competition.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has taken a swipe at the SANZAR brains trust over their proposed Super Rugby innovations.
He called the proposed changes to the Super Rugby bonus point system “bizarre” and suggested there was a lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.
The SANZAR initiative, that is expected to formally unveiled early next week, also include a number of minor law variations for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
While some of the expected law innovations still require World Rugby approval, the biggest innovation – a change to the try-scoring bonus points – is what has caused the biggest stir.
The SANZAR change will see the bonus point awarded to teams who score 4 tries or more in a game scrapped and replaced by 1 for teams that score 3 tries more than their opponents.
Blackadder called the proposed change “bizarre” and queried the lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.
The mooted change, widely reported by media in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, is a copy of the system used in the French Top 14 league and aimed at keeping lopsided games alive for longer periods.
The Southern Kings have confirmed a number of new signings following a week of intensive training with the SA Rugby Mobi Unit.
Chief Operating Officer, Charl Crous, confirmed that Pumas flanker, Chris Cloete, (24) and Sharks Lock John-Charles (JC) Astle (25) had been secured on loan for the season.
Following initial trials, Crous also confirmed the Southern Kings have also retained the talent of SWD utility back Leighton Eksteen (21) who has played at Scrumhalf, Flyhalf and Fullback, as well as SWD’s Luzuko Vulindlu (28) who has played at Centre and Wing. Both have been secured on loan from SWD for the season.
Sharks Centre Lukhanyo Am (22) has also secured a position in the squad on loan.
Crous said Sharks hooker, Monde Hadebe (25) would be returning to the Sharks for rehab following a slight back sprain that will see him out of action for between 4 to 5 weeks.
Crous also confirmed hooker Martin Ferreira (26) and lock, Tazz Fuzani (25) had been secured on contract for the Southern Kings season for 2016.
The Cell C Sharks’ 5 missing international players — away in Japan completing their club duties — are expected back in Durban before the end of the month.
New vice-captain Marcell Coetzee, JP Pietersen, Namibian backrower Renaldo Bothma and new signings Willie le Roux and Jacques Potgieter will join the Sharks squad a week before they leave on their pre-season tour of France early in February.
A member of the Sharks management yesterday said that the squad to travel to France would be announced next week and a decision on whether the Japan-based players would be included for the 2 friendlies has still to be made.
The Sharks will play 2-time European champs Toulon on Friday 5 February, before taking on Toulouse 6 days later.
New Cell C Sharks captain Pat Lambie said that it was likely that all the tour members would be given an airing during the 2 games but added that taking on the 2 Top 14 French clubs would be a major challenge.
Head coach Gary Gold said he wanted tough opposition for his young charges ahead of a fresh season.
The fixtures for next year’s Americas Rugby Championship have been announced in the last while. The tournament will be contested by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, United States and Uruguay.
The tournament which will be played around the same time as arguably the best supported international tournament outside the World Cup, the Six Nations, on a similar basis with each team playing 5 games.
The 1st Round of the Americas Rugby Championship will take place on the 1st weekend in February while the 5th and final Round of action is scheduled for the 1st weekend in March.
There will be some interesting questions that will need to be answered by Argentina in particular and it remains to be seen, considering the stature of the majority of their opponents, how seriously they will take the competition.
The last 2 Rounds of the Championship take place at the same time as the 1st 2 Rounds of the revamped Super Rugby tournament. One assumes that Argentina will be going all out to make a good impression during their debut Super Rugby season and they stand a good chance, at the very least, of making the knockout stages.
Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise will be called Los Jaguares (Jaguars).
The team will play be in the 2nd African conference, alongside the Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions and Southern Kings.
To play Test rugby for Argentina, players have to be contracted by the UAR and be available to play Super Rugby.
The Jaguars’ 1st match will be against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday 26 February 2016.
New SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos has backed South Africa’s Southern Kings and Japan’s Sunwolves to cause upsets in Super Rugby 2016.
The Southern Kings have at least played a season of Super Rugby before, while the Sunwolves are making their debut as the competition expands to accommodate a side each from Japan and Argentina as well as an extra South African side.
The EP Kings’ serious financial troubles over the past few months have raised questions over their fanchise participation in the competition, but the Sunwolves have not yet named a head coach for the season while they also do not have a full player roster.
But Marinos was a voice of calm on Wednesday morning, backing the Japanese franchise to get their ducks in a row before the tournament begins at the end of February.
SANZAR has appointed Andy Marinos as the organisation’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
His new job will formally commence on 1 January 2016 and he replaces Greg Peters – who is taking over as CEO of the new Argentina Super Rugby team.
The South African, who is no stranger to the position, having previously served as CEO between 2008 – 2010, brings a wealth of business and rugby experience to the role, both as an administrator and professional player.
Marinos re-joins SANZAR from SARU, where he has served as General Manager of Commercial & Marketing for the past 5 years, in addition to SARU Acting Managing Director and Board Member (2008 – 2010), Springbok Team Manager (2008), Manager of South African National Teams (2005 – 2010) and World Rugby Sevens Advisory Group (2008 – 2015).
Barbarians (12) 31 / 49 (28) Los Pumas (Final Score)
The Barbarians and the Argentinaian Los Pumas did battle in a Barbarians Rugby 125th aniversary celebration match at
Twickenham Stadium, London at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 UK Time & GMT, 12:05 Arg Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
The world’s most famous invitation club, the Barbarians, will aim to entertain when they celebrate their 125th year of existence.
The BaaBaas will host a strong Argentinean Los Pumas team at Twickenham on Saturday.
However, coach Michael Cheika’s message to his Barbarians team was simple.
“Keep it simple, have a go and back yourselves,” Cheika told the BaaBaas players.
Argentina have a slightly different focus.
Having finished 3rd in The Rugby Championship – the 1st time hey did not finish last – and 4th in the Rugby World Cup, they hope to finish their year on a winning note.
Wing Santiago Cordero, 1 of the sensations for the Pumas at the Rugby World up, said it is going to be a “pretty tough” game.
The Brumbies have announced Argentine scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli will be joining the Canberra-based Super Rugby team on a 2-year deal.
Cubelli is a member of the Argentine national team and has been a standout player for Los Pumas this year including a number of strong performances in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Cubelli has 45 Test caps, the most recent being the 3rd-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup against South Africa, in which he started at scrumhalf for Los Pumas.
Brumbies CEO Michael Jones said Cubelli was presented a number of options after a very successful international season, including the new Argentinian Super Rugby side which will boast 21 of their Rugby World Cup semifinal squad, and was very happy to have secured the international star.
New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew said it was premature to speculate about Japan joining The Rugby Championship.
The sport is currently on a high in the Asian nation after the Brave Blossoms’ exploits at the Rugby World Cup, which included a stunning 34 / 32 win over South Africa, but there are already concerns about its preparations for the expanded Super Rugby competition next year.
With Japan set to host the next edition of the Rugby World Cup in 2019, World Rugby is keen to consolidate its popularity in a large and potentially lucrative market.
The governing body’s chairman Bernard Lapasset said on a trip to Tokyo this week that Japan should join The Rugby Championship, which currently comprises New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
But New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said a more immediate concern for Japanese rugby was fielding a competitive side in the Super Rugby competition in 2016.
Glasgow Warriors have signed Georgian international Shalva Mamukashvili on a deal until the end of the season.
The 25-year-old has 35 caps for his country and featured in all 4 of Georgia’s Rugby World Cup pool games in England.
He played 11 matches for Sale Sharks last season, including 3 European Rugby Champions Cup games.
The experienced hooker goes straight into the Warriors 41-man European squad, replacing Kevin Bryce. Glasgow visit Racing 92 on Saturday and then host Northampton Saints the following weekend, in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun.
Mamukashvili joins as cover at hooker, with both Kevin Bryce and Fergus Scott set for lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Fraser Brown is currently recovering from foot surgery.
Bryce and Scott have both undergone shoulder operations, following scans at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, and are expected to remain on the sidelines for several months.
Durban, and not Johannesburg, will host back-to-back Rugby World Cup winners, the New Zealand All Blacks next year.
The South African Rugby Union revealed that the 3-times Rugby World Cup champion All Blacks will play the Springboks in Durban on 8 October in The Rugby Championship encounter between the 2 sides on SA soil.
The Springboks and All Blacks have played each other in Johannesburg 5 times in the last 6 years – with 2011 the exception, when they met in Port Elizabeth.
Durban last hosted a Springboks versus All Blacks Test in 2009, with Newlands completely off the map (for the biggest face-off in the game) since 2008.
The exceptionally large All Black following in Cape Town, which have become increasingly vengeful towards the Springboks (even spitting at players), is the main reason why Newlands will not host the All Blacks in the near future.
Bloemfontein (2009) and Pretoria (2006) have also not seen an All Black Test in years.
Daniel Hourcade has named a group of 25 players to prepare for their match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on 21 November. Only 4 players come from outside of the squad that took park in the Rugby World Cup – Tomás Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Emiliano Boffelli, and Ramiro Moyano.
Of note is that all but 3 of the group is contracted to the UAR for the 2015 Super Rugby season, giving Southern Hemisphere fans an early glimpse at what the Jaguars side might look like. Exceptions include scrumhalf Ezcurra, loose forwards Leonardo Senatore, and tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi. The latter was called into the Rugby World Cup group in place of Matías Diaz, ruled out with heart problems. Should Diaz by unable to take part in Super Rugby, Orlandi looks the most likely replacement.
Notable absentees are giant lock Tomás Lavanini, currently suspended, and scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli, whose squad place has been taken by Ezcurra. Cubelli’s absence could well be linked to his reported signing with the Brumbies for the Super Rugby season, with the Australian-based franchise said to have inked a 2-year deal with the Pumas star as a replacement for departed playmaker Nic White.
A letter published on the Club Atlético de San Isidro website says that the Club has reached an agreement with Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) to be the HOME VENUE for Argentina’s new Super Rugby team for 5 years from 2016.
The new franchise, which will be formally unveiled in the coming weeks, appears likely to play its home games at the Club, which is situated approximately 20 minutes north of Buenos Aires.
“We finally reached an agreement that will allow the UAR to use 1 field at our headquarters to play 8 games between March and June. All parties showed a great willingness to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” the statement said.
New Zealand and Australia’s World Cup finalists join forces in a superstar Barbarians’ squad when they take on Gloucester and Argentina this month. Add a sprinkling of South Africans to it and you have the Barbarians squad.
Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, the All Blacks’ opening try scorer in the 34 / 17 win against the Wallabies, is just 1 of 7 All Blacks in the squad.
Milner-Skudder will be joined by Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Charlie Faumuina, as well as fellow wing Waisake Naholo, when the world famous invitation club returns to action at Kingsholm on 17 November before taking on Rugby World Cup semifinalists Argentina in the Killik Cup match at Twickenham Stadium on 21 November.
Tevita Kuridrani – the scorer of Australia’s 2nd final try – has been added to the squad and joins Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and flank Scott Fardy in a 24-man group.
The squad also contains one of the world’s greatest lock partnerships in South Africa’s Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha who are backed up by rising star Lood de Jager.
Barbarians head coach Michael Cheika will have formidable firepower at his disposal with the likes of Fiji’s World Cup star Nemani Nadolo lining up with South Africa’s Pat Lambie and Australia’s Joe Tomane.
There is world class front row potential with Moore and Faumuina alongside South Africa’s Tendai Mtawarira, while flank Fardy was 1 of Australia’s most consistent Rugby World Cup performers.
There are 2 uncapped players in the squad: Cheetahs’ centre Francois Venter and Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea.
As well as winning a host of new admirers for their adventurous approach throughout Rugby World Cup 2015, beaten semifinalists Argentina and headline-grabbing Japan have also enjoyed the biggest rise of all the competing nations in the World Rugby Rankings. Both are ranked 3 places higher than where they were when Rugby World Cup 2015 began at Twickenham Stadium on Friday 18 September.Los Pumas have moved up from 8th to 5th thanks to their 2nd place finish behind New Zealand in Pool C and the way that they effortlessly brushed Ireland aside in the quarterfinals.
A disappointing World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup campaign this summer left Japan languishing 13th in the rankings, and at that stage few people would have predicted what they would go on to achieve in England: 3 wins from 4 and a place in tournament folklore.
The Brave Blossoms’ historic 34 / 32 win over South Africa in Brighton may not have been enough to book them a place in the knockout stages but it did help them return to the world’s Top 10.
With points exchanges doubled to reflect the importance Rugby World Cup matches no-one fared better than Japan, going from 72.06 rating points pre-tournament to 77.05 at its conclusion.
One of the things that this recently completed Rugby World Cup should have done is put an end to some of the justifications that are perennially forwarded for percentage tactics and neglect of the skill sets and strategies that the 2 finalists boasted and employed in their passage to the Twickenham Stadium decider.
For a start, what happened to that wet weather everyone was talking about and which was supposed to a justification for grinding tactics? It rained in the semifinal between South Africa and New Zealand, where the Kiwis proved once again that they are just as good at the things that the Springboks are supposed to do well as they are.
The tournament was of course not played in the English winter. In fact, you could argue that this year it wasn’t played even in autumn, particularly early on, when cities and towns like Brighton, Birmingham and Newcastle had more of a feel of late summer than a feel of early autumn.
That, coupled with the fact that so many of the Pool games were played on fast paced surfaces built for soccer, tipped the scales towards the quick paced Southern Hemisphere style game. When Wales coach Warren Gatland was asked why the Southern Hemisphere nations shut their northern rivals out of the semifinal Round, he mentioned something about conditions south of the equator facilitating the development of more of a running rugby skill set.
South Africa said goodbye to a large swathe of great players in victorious fashion when they defeated Argentina 24 / 13 in the bronze medal final on Friday.
Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana (above) will all be over 35 come Japan 2019, while 38-year-old Victor Matfield, who captained them in the bronze medal match at the Olympic stadium, has already announced his retirement for the 2nd time.
All 4 were members of a glorious few years for the Springboks in which they bestrode the world. It began when Jake White’s team won the 2007 World Cup and, under his replacement Peter de Villiers, they won the 2009 Tri-Nations then beat the British & Irish Lions 2 / 1 in a Test series in the same year.
Du Preez, Habana and Matfield were also part of the Blue Bulls team that was coached by Heyneke Meyer and became the 1st South African franchise to win the Super Rugby title, in 2007.
Daniel Hourcade may stay on as coach of Argentina for 2 more years but confirmed on Friday he will not be in charge at the next Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
Hourcade’s Pumas finished 4th at the tournament when they lost 24 / 13 to South Africa’s Springboks at Olympic Park on Friday.
The Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) have indicated they want him to continue but Hourcade said he had yet to sit down to formalise his next step.
“If we come to an agreement it would be for 2 years,” Hourcade told reporters.
“A lot can happen in 2 years including logical physical wear… Cycles come to an end.”
Hourcade, who told Argentine daily Clarin this week he would not take the team to Japan, has carried out a transformation of Argentina’s game in his 2 years as coach.
Argentina joined The Rugby Championship in 2012 and their only defeats at the Rugby World Cup in England came at the hands of their 3 southern hemisphere rivals.
Springboks (16) 24 / 13 (0) Los Pumas (Final Score)
The South African Springboks and Argentinian Los Pumas did battle in the 2015 Rugby World Cup 3rd Place Play-off at
Olympic Stadium, London, England at 22:00 SA Time (20:00 UK Time & GMT, 17:00 ARG Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
Argentina loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza, who was set to start for Los Pumas in the bronze final against the Springboks on Friday, has been ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury sustained in training on Thursday, according to team doctor Guillermo Botto.
Team management have called up Santiago García Botta, a Belgrano Athletic prop with 5 Test caps under his belt, to take his place in the squad.
García Botta, 23, flew in from Buenos Aires on Thursday and will be on the replacements bench at the Olympic Stadium as Daniel Hourcade’s men take on South Africa for the right to finish 3rd at Rugby World Cup 2015.
On 31 October, 9 of the iconic aircraft will treat fans in Twickenham Stadium, as well as the Richmond and Trafalgar Square fanzones, to a special flypast prior to the start of the final between New Zealand and Australia. They will flyover Trafalgar Square 7 minutes before kick-off, then over Twickenham Stadium and the Richmond Fanzone at 15:55 as the teams line up for the anthems.
The finalists are set to battle it out for rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup, in front of a sell-out crowd of 80 125. South Africa and Argentina will also go head to head in front of a full house in the Bronze final at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – in front of 56 000 spectators.
Nicolas Sanchez, the highest points scorer at the Rugby World Cup, will captain Argentina for the 1st time in Friday’s 3rd-place play-off against South Africa.
Sanchez, who has 89 points, mainly from the boot, will take over the armband from the injured Agustin Creevy.
Coach Daniel Hourcade has made 9 changes to the team that started the 15 / 29 semifinal loss against Australia last Sunday.
Many were forced by injury as key players Creevy, outstanding wing Juan Imhoff and veteran centre Juan Martin Hernández all had to be replaced on Sunday.
Agustín Pichot, Council Member for Argentina, has been elected onto World Rugby’s Executive Committee.
Pichot was elected by the World Rugby Council in accordance with the Bye-Laws, replacing Ireland’s Peter Boyle, who stepped down following elections within his union.
President of Rugby Americas, former captain of Argentina’s 15s and Sevens teams and bronze final winner at Rugby World Cup 2007, Pichot has been a driving force behind Argentina’s development on and off the field, including The Rugby Championship inclusion and the introduction of an Argentinian team in Super Rugby.
Pichot joins the Executive Committee at a time when the sport is experiencing unprecedented global growth and popularity with a record-breaking, compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup, reaching and inspiring new audiences globally.
Argentina have dismissed Springbok suggestions that Friday’s bronze final does not mean anything and are determined to celebrate their attacking style at the tournament by beating their Rugby Championship rivals.
After his side narrowly lost to New Zealand 20 / 18 in Saturday’s 1st semifinal, South African coach Heyneke Meyer said it would be tough mentally to prepare for the clash at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” he said.
But, despite the disappointment of failing to get past Australia in their semifinal, Argentina captain Agustin Creevy and his squad were excited about trying to secure the 3rd place.
Asked about Meyer’s comments, Creevy said: “I don’t know why he said that. I would rather be 3rd than 4th. We want to be in the Top 3. We need to get over the defeat and start again. The 3rd-place playoff means a lot.”
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all of Argentina’s points in the 29 / 15 defeat by the Wallabies, said: “We came here to play the final, but I think we gave it our all. The biggest challenge now is to finish on a high note and get the 3rd place.
“We’ve got a mentally very tough game ahead. This week probably won’t be as pleasant as this past one, but we’ll make a great effort to get the bronze medal.”
The Southern Hemisphere nations consolidated their positions as the Top 4 in world rugby after a weekend of battle that resulted in the Top 2, New Zealand and Australia, moving through to this Saturday’s final of Rugby World Cup 2015.
South Africa, who lost 20 / 18 to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semifinal on Saturday, retain their position as world No 3 ahead of Argentina, who were defeated 29 / 15 by Australia in Sunday’s semifinal.
The Springboks and Pumas will contest the Rugby World Cup bronze final on Friday and the winner is likely to be the world No 3, with the sides separated in the rankings by less than 1 point.
Under the points exchange system used to calculate rankings, sides take points off each other based on the match result; whatever 1 side gains, the other loses. Such points exchanges are doubled during the Rugby World Cup to recognise the unique importance of the event.
Nigel Owens has been appointed to referee the final of Rugby World Cup 2015. The 44-year-old from Wales is a veteran of 67 Tests but on Saturday at 17:00 SA Time (16:00 UK Time) he will take charge of the biggest match of his career to date.
Owens will become just the 7th referee to do the job, following in the footsteps of Kerry Fitzgerald (1987), Derek Bevan (1991), Ed Morrison (1995), Andre Watson (1999 and 2003), Alain Rolland (2007) and Craig Joubert (2011).
His experience and his consistency over many years, as well as his excellent form during the build-up to and during Rugby World Cup 2015, has won him selection to the pinnacle match in the sport at the end of a tournament in which the high quality of officiating has been a feature.
Argentina star Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe believes the creation of a new Super Rugby franchise in Buenos Aires can inspire the Pumas to greater heights even if it means the end of his Test career.
The South Americans, not long ago regarded as a ‘second-tier’ nation, confirmed their status as a major rugby force with a run to the Rugby World Cup semifinals that saw them lose 15 / 29 to Australia at Twickenham on Sunday.
Argentina, however, still have a chance to equal their 3rd-place finish at the 2007 World Cup when they face South Africa in the bronze medal play-off at London’s Olympic Stadium on Friday.
The past year has seen Argentina beat both Australia and South Africa in the Southern Hemisphere’s The Rugby Championship.
Wallabies (19) 29 / 15 (9) Los Pumas (Final Score)
The Australian Wallabies and Argentinian Los Pumas did battle in a Semifinal at the 2015 Rugby World Cup at
Twickenham Stadium, London, England at 18:00 SA Time (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT, 13:00 Arg Time, Monday 03:00 AEDT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
Argentina will be looking to break new ground in the rugby world when they face Australia in their Rugby World Cup semifinal at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.
The Latin Americans have been fantastic in this year’s tournament, with their only hiccup coming in a spirited 16 / 26 defeat to defending champions New Zealand in their opening match. They are now just 1 win away from reaching their 1st-ever Rugby World Cup Final.
Their 43 / 20 win over Ireland in last weekend’s quarterfinals was a clear message to the other remaining teams in the competition that they are not in Britain to make up the numbers.
However, they are facing a stern test against a street smart Wallabies’ outfit who are many pundit’s favourites to win the coveted title this year, after the mighty All Blacks won it the last time around in 2011. Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez has been one of the stars of Argentina’s campaign so far scoring 74 points.
Despite many singing his praises, Sanchez’s attention remained firmly on preparing for the semifinal this week.
For the 4 coaches of the Rugby World Cup semifinalists – Argentina’s Daniel Hourcade, Australia’s Michael Cheika, New Zealand’s Steve Hansen and South Africa’s Heyneke Meyer – the coming weekend promises to be a defining moment in their careers.
Win and they can look forward to leading their teams out for the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham Stadium next Saturday, lose and they will be left to prepare for Friday night’s bronze medal match at the Olympic stadium, wondering what might have been.
Hansen summed up the contrast earlier in the week: “You either stand up and be counted or go home. Even worse, you have to play that other game.”
One thing the coaches share is that none had spectacular playing careers – Cheika’s Australia Under 21 caps represent the closest any of them came to international rugby – though all 4 have worked tirelessly as coaches to earn the positions they currently occupy.
It is going to be an emotional week for an emotional man. For 20 years, Mario Ledesma, the proudest of Argentines, gave everything for the Pumas’ cause at the head of their mighty scrum. This week, he is charged with obliterating the prospect of the greatest day in his country’s rugby history.
Ledesma, one of the game’s greatest hookers who helped Argentina reach new heights at 4 Rugby World Cups, is now transforming Australia’s pack, as the coach of the vastly improved Wallabies’ scrum.
On Sunday, the popular Ledesma’s Australian charges face their most demanding test yet against the team whose reputation for scrummaging prowess was so greatly enhanced by the flinty 42-year-old from Buenos Aires.
The Twickenham semifinal, Australian coach Michael Cheika understands, is bound to be a strangely conflicting experience for such a passionate servant of Argentine rugby.
He also knows it will not stop Ledesma from continuing to put “120%” into the Wallabies’ team he has learned to love over the past year. Either way, it will probably end in tears for “Super Mario”.