RWC: Bring On South Africa, Say Argentina
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Third in the world may not mean much to South Africa, but to Argentinian captain Agustin Creevy it means everything.
The losing World Cup semifinalists play-off for the bronze medal next Friday and Creevy said he was relishing the chance to beat South Africa for the second time this year.
The Pumas skipper was upbeat despite limping off in the second half of their semifinal when beaten by Australia 29-15 at Twickenham on Sunday.
His mood was the opposite to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer after his side were beaten by New Zealand 20-18 on Saturday. Meyer said the losers play-off “does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister.”
Creevy said he could understand the disappointment at losing in the semifinals but not the objection to finishing third in the tournament as his compatriots managed in 2007 beating hosts France in the bronze game.
“We are very sad,” Creevy said of their semifinal loss to Australia.
“But we have nothing to reproach ourselves for. We will keep our heads up and think about Friday,” Creevy said.
“We want to be in the top three so we need to get over this defeat and start again.
“I’d rather be third and not fourth. We will not be world champions so our next goal will be to finish third and beat South Africa.”
The Pumas beat South Africa 37-25 in a historic victory in Durban in the Rugby Championship in August and Creevy believed they can do it again.
“On the international rugby map we made the quarterfinals and now the semifinals. We were among the final four and now we will try to be in the top three, that’s our aim.
“We will recover (from the loss) and our best game is still to come. It will be next Friday.”
Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade supported his captain in highlighting the significance of the play-off for third.
“Every game means a lot. Every game we are trying to reach the top and it will be fantastic to beat such a great team as South Africa is.”
Hourcade, who like Meyer is an emotional coach, wept at the end of their semifinal against Australia and said he felt sad for his team.
“We feel a huge pain because we were very excited and emotional. I was feeling for the players for they gave everything. They left their lives out there,” he said.
Hourcade believed if the Pumas had been able to score one try, rather than rely solely on fly-half Nicolas Sanchez to keep them in the game with five penalties, it would have changed the outcome.
“The players were very committed, very engaged, and they never gave up until the 80th minute looking for that try,” Hourcade said.
The Pumas have developing strongly since joining the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship in 2012, securing their first win over Australia last year and beating the Springboks this year.
Although they did not adapt their style of play to suit the sudden-death nature of a World Cup knockout match, Hourcade rejected suggestions they should have taken a more risk-free approach.
“Australia played very well. They are a great team and if we played again I would follow the same plan because this is what we always wanted,” said the 57-year-old, who has performed wonders to turn a demoralised squad into World Cup semifinalists since taking over from Santiago Phelan in October 2013.
“It’s a learning curve but we will have a review and see what mistakes were made. But we will follow the path because this is the right path.”