Jaguares no fluke – Jake

Jake White

I remember sitting in the Bok change room at halftime of a match against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 2005. We were down 20-16.

I told each of the players to look at the guy sitting next to them on their left and right and I said that the reason I wanted them to do that was so that they would never forget the names of the Bok players that lost against Argentina for the first time.

We ended up winning the second half 18-3 and extended South Africa’s unbeaten run against the Pumas.

In 2012, the Boks failed to beat Argentina for the first time and they suffered their first loss in the Los Pumas rivalry in 2015. This year, the Jaguares are Super Rugby’s SA Conference champions.

I can’t say it’s come as a surprise, because rugby values breed success. My son enjoys Superbru and he won his pool by backing the Jaguares in every game.

It’s great for rugby in Argentina and for the Pumas that, through the Jaguares, they’re getting the publicity and experience of playing under pressure in knockout games on the big stage.

That will have a massive impact on the Rugby World Cup because, just a few months away from Japan 2019, the core of the Argentina squad has been instrumental in getting the Jaguares to the Super Rugby playoffs for the first time and now hosting a semi-final.

People have said it’s unfair because the Jaguares are an international side. I don’t agree with that because when the Crusaders, Blues and Brumbies were dominating Super Rugby, the majority of their squads were also international players. Historically, the dominant teams have the most international players.

That was the case in 2007 when many of the Bok players who went to the World Cup came from the Super Rugby final between the Sharks and Bulls. It helped us massively because we knew we had players who had performed at that high level.

South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup squad was full of guys that had either played for Transvaal in the Super 10 finals of 1993 and 1995, or the 1994 final for Natal.

This situation would have been exactly what Argentina were aiming for when they first joined SANZAAR.

A couple of World Cups ago they were begging for an opportunity to join existing competitions because their domestic program was limited to amateur club rugby. In 10 years, the Pumas have gone from fielding club guys to having their players contest a Super Rugby semi-final.

At the 2007 Rugby World Cup, 27 players in the Pumas squad were playing their rugby in France. That means they were based there, benefiting from the conditioning and coaching at those French clubs. They finished third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and beat France twice.

It wasn’t too long ago when no Argentine side had ever beaten a South African team. They used to be the epitome of amateur rugby in the old days. I was with the Junior Boks in Argentina for the 1999 world championships and, as a warm up, we played a club called San Patricio.

We won 75-14 and their points came from two pushover tries. They celebrated those two tries deep into the night because they were so chuffed they’d scored against South Africa.

In those days, we could probably have beaten Argentina with some of our provincial sides.

The Pampas were inserted into the Vodacom Cup in 2010 and won three of seven matches. The following season they beat the Blue Bulls in the final with players like Joaquin Tuculet, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo, Tomas Cubelli and Agustin Creevy, players who have since emerged as world-class talents.

But Argentina put an end to picking overseas-based players a few years ago and Creevy left Montpellier to go home and play for the Jaguares.

They’ve made some tough calls to strengthen their domestic game, and now they’re starting to reap the rewards.

Argentina have won two of the last five Tests against the Boks and the Jaguares have this season beaten the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers, Blues, Hurricanes, Chiefs, and Brumbies.

And just to show how effective their model is, they’re getting those results from a senior side that draws from a talent pool of junior players, the best of whom took 40 points at home against the Junior Boks in last week’s bronze final. Our U20s played their U20s in Argentina and smashed them.

Is there a chance that, in five years, those players will represent Argentina and beat the Boks? The answer should be no. And if it is yes, the question is why?

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • John Comyn

    They play a great brand of rugby as well. I have enjoyed watching them this season. A big thing is they have sorted out their discipline issues where over the years they have been blown off the park. It is not inconceivable that they win SR this year.

  • Chris

    Its true that all of the top SR sides have a lot of internationals, but its a bit of a misleading statement. You could have played for the AB’s 10 years ago and still be called a “international”.

    The Jags are made up of current Pumas. The spine of the team play in the same SR side. Big difference from the rest of SR.
    Its like having the current Springbok side as a team in the SR comp all with long term contracts and with Rassie as coach. Pumas biggest problem is caused by the same factors. They don’t grow the depth you need to deal with injuries in a long competition, because they only have one provincial team competing in SR. Take out a couple of key guys with a injuries or red card and they look like second tier.

  • Dean Bright

    If only the SA rugby fraternity would get their act together. Our administration is amateur in many ways. We have far more resources, talent and IP to be a rugby superpower again. It’s just that most of that is overseas or in the Supersport studio. It makes you wonder why so many of those heroes of 95 and 07 never went on to contribute more to SA rugby. Too much politics. This RWC will be the ultimate test of depth because of the intensity and amount of rugby played this year. Argentina, Scotland, Australia and France don’t have the required depth. NZ, SA and England have potentially the most depth. Wales have built a very strong squad too. If Ireland lose key players like Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton, will they be the same force? The recent Six Nations says otherwise.

  • Nick

    Oh dear.
    Just like the type of rugby JW coaches, this article is essentially mind numbingly boring. Not offensive, not interesting. Just a boring description of stuff we already know. I assume he has a monthly quota of articles to fill judging by the regular intervals between articles, let’s face it, there’s no way on earth that Jake does anything for free.

    • Nicks mom

      Won many world cups have you?

  • Fred

    Good, solid, factual, enlightening article. How on earth did South Africa fire this guy after winning a world cup?

    That last paragraph asks the question that probably cuts to the core of the poor state of SA rugby. Is SA rugby even aware of the question, never mind the answer…

  • Nick

    Nice one Fred. Enjoy.

  • Nick

    Nick’s mom. None. Not one. How many do you have? I hope your’e not thick enough to think that Jake was responsible for that win in 2007.

  • Herman

    Chris reality check. The current Bok team playing in SR team would maybe make the QF’s and that’s it. True story. Cheers.

Comments are closed.