Why Los Pumas’ cohesion is their greatest asset

A few days before the start of the Rugby Championship, the teams already showed their tactical novelties in matches played during July. The limitations caused by COVID-19 determined the rugby performance of the entire southern hemisphere, but more particularly the structures of the selected teams from South Africa and Argentina, because many of their members […]

Why Los Pumas’ cohesion is their greatest asset

A few days before the start of the Rugby Championship, the teams already showed their tactical novelties in matches played during July.

The limitations caused by COVID-19 determined the rugby performance of the entire southern hemisphere, but more particularly the structures of the selected teams from South Africa and Argentina, because many of their members develop activities in the northern hemisphere.

South Africans participated in the Rainbow Cup and many Argentine players compete in England and France.

This mention makes our interest focus on the analysis of the cohesion factors that intervene in the performance of the game.

I will analyse Argentina from a historical series of data from 2019 to the present:
1. Permanence in the selected team and leadership
2. Caps played
3. Place where the groups of players are based
4. Tries scored in benchmark competitions

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

From the perspective of cohesion, we see that Argentina at the 2019 World Cup gathered its best men around the Jaguares.

Being based in Argentina, the Jaguares was a natural generator of players destined for Los Pumas. From a total of 31 participants in the 2019 World Cup, we registered 28 based in Argentina and three based in Europe.

Regarding the segmentation of the experience of the participating group in the last World Cup, we note the following: 11 men with more than 50 caps contested, seven between 50 and 30 caps contested, and 13 with less than 30 caps.

As we can see, the cohesive structure of Los Pumas for the 2019 World Cup edition revolved around men with less than 30 caps who were based in Argentina and generated an average of 36 caps for the team.

This suggested the existence of better predisposing conditions, but the consolidated indicator of 12.8 points achieved reflected the fact that despite scoring 14 tries, Argentina did not beat the Group C instance.

When we focus our analysis on the 2020 Tri-Nations, we see that the cohesion indicator decreased based on the incorporation of players with less than 30 caps in Los Pumas (28 out of a total of 43). As can be seen in the graph, the 11.6 points scored by the indicator are closely related to the low number of scored tries (two).

The other item to analyse from cohesion is the European tour that Los Pumas undertook in July 2021 through Romania and Wales.

For this three-game tour, Argentina based its structure on men residing in Europe (28) to manage logistical and economic factors. But when considered a tour to test players, 17 men with less than 30 caps contributed to the structure.

By favouring men with less international experience, Argentina opted to promote a less cohesive structure. Despite this conditioning, nine tries were scored (four versus Romania and five versus Wales), which drove a further improvement to the indicator.

Finally, when I analyse the preliminaries to the 2021 Rugby Championship, we see that the indicator is projected more balanced, because the call for participants concentrates 37 players based in Europe and 31 with less than 30 caps played.

The 12.6 points projected for the indicator could be improved due to a good try score, since they show a level close to that achieved in the 2019 World Cup where Los Pumas had everything to succeed.

What is the greatest competitive advantage of Los Pumas? Undoubtedly, their degree of cohesion as a team is not optimal, but it is the factor that keeps them expectant and in permanent training in each competition.

Source : The Roar More   

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‘Below expectations but probably not surprising’: Reflecting on Australia’s Olympic rugby campaigns

While social media is rarely indicative of the broader community’s view, it was good to see the response from newbies watching rugby sevens for the first time at the Olympics. A bit of Twitter banter got people really excited when an American said you could pick a team of NFL players and they would clean […]

‘Below expectations but probably not surprising’: Reflecting on Australia’s Olympic rugby campaigns

While social media is rarely indicative of the broader community’s view, it was good to see the response from newbies watching rugby sevens for the first time at the Olympics.

A bit of Twitter banter got people really excited when an American said you could pick a team of NFL players and they would clean up at the Olympics.

In addition, there were fans getting stuck into the USA teams’ performance which was a bit over the top but does indicate they actually have an interest.

Then there was the overwhelming support for the Fijiana.

In terms of expectations, the Fiji men and New Zealand women winning went to script.

The highlights included how the Fijians play rugby and the emotion they showed post winning the gold medal. Add to this the latino emotion (which we saw in Australia last season) of Argentina winning the bronze, then Fijiana surprising many by taking out the bronze in the women’s sevens.

So how did the Australian teams fare?

Men
The men’s team finished seventh, which probably reflects where they are currently – around that fifth, sixth, seventh mark.

In saying that, they had a tough draw, suffering losses to all three of the medallists – Argentina and New Zealand in the pool stage, and Fiji in the quarter-final.

Maurice Longbottom stood out, Samu Kerevi added size and strength as an impact player, Lewis Holland has lost a bit of speed but is still smart and has the best long pass, while Dietrich Roache played very well for a newbie.

The rest of the squad are pretty much of a muchness – quality players but none who inspire excitement that they will break the game open or make a game-changing defensive play.

Despite a big turnover of players since Rio 2016, they don’t seem to have improved much. They still do not have the size, physicality or outright speed of the other teams.

The direction this squad takes will no doubt depend on the recommencement of the World Series and Rugby AU funding.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Women
New Zealand, with ten players backing up from Rio 2016, were pretty much unbeatable. We did see the rise of France, Fijiana, significant improvement by China and the Great Britain team performed very well.

Australia finished fifth and the two games they lost were only by two points, which was below expectations but probably not surprising. They started their campaign well but buckled a bit against the bigger teams.

In summary they do not seem to have progressed much since 2016, with only five returning from Rio.

Before the tournament, captain Sharni Williams said, “We will have the scrap to win everything, we are probably one of the smallest teams and as a result we know we have to get in there and have a go.” This rang true (a bit like the men’s team).

We also missed Rio leaders like Emilee Cherry, Chloe Dalton and Alicia Quirk, with too much reliance on Charlotte Caslick.

Over the last couple of years it seems the squad was stuck between keeping the players from Rio and the need to move. Then with injuries and retirement, the new players did not have the time to build combinations.

So who had a good Olympics campaign? The mainstays of the team – Caslick, Vani Pelite and Williams – are always good. In particular, Caslick and Pelite are just outstanding.

Australian rugby 7s player Charlotte Caslick runs the ball at the Sydney 7s

Charlotte Caslick (Karen Watson)

Emma Tonegato did well coming back from injury but was not at her best. Credit to Demi Hayes, who had an exceptional Olympics, especially in defence.

Youngsters Faith Nathan and Madison Ashby are smart, and Sariah Paki has some toughness about her. There were a couple of debutants which, while good players, was asking a bit much at the Olympics.

Our women still have the skills, fitness and footy smarts but lack size. They cannot dominate in defence to force an error, they almost need to wait for the opposition to make one. But they are still a high-quality side with some very good players.

Like rugby more generally in Australia, they suffer from so many footy codes diluting the available talent. Wonder if the women will give NRLW a go now?

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So where are we at? In simple terms, a review of the sevens program will occur. The main issue is where will Rugby AU prioritise sevens and will the World Series recommence?

Unfortunately Rugby AU’s financial limitations will result in a battle between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. Plus there is a women’s 5s World Cup next year too.

Source : The Roar More   

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