Rugby union: Pumas leave World Cup proud after clawing big powers

Argentina's players sing their national anthem during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Bronze final match.
Argentina's players sing their national anthem during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Bronze final match.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (AFP) - Argentina left the Rugby World Cup happy having shocked the rugby powers with the idea that they will have to make room for a new kid on the block.

Even in Friday's third-place play-off at the Olympic Stadium, the Pumas scored a last-minute try through replacement Juan Pablo Orlandi to restrict South Africa's win to 24-13.

Argentina won plaudits for their attacking rugby right through to their semi-final where they went down to Australia. Coach Daniel Hourcade called the tournament a "huge achievement" for his players.

"We have done very well over the whole of the World Cup. I am a little sad because for a while we thought we could do it.

"Our long-term goal was (the World Cup in Japan in) 2019, but straight away was this World Cup.

"We wanted to leave things ready for the future and being in the top four is great."

Hourcade said Argentina would be remembered as "the team who gave everything".

"That's what the Pumas have always done. We went for an attacking game which we had been working on a lot."

Hourcade said a coach would be named next week for the new Buenos Aires team to take part in the Super Rugby club championship for Southern Hemisphere nations.

He said he would not be the coach, but with Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, the Argentinian club and national teams would get 27 matches a year.

"We will grow. As you can see there is a great future for Argentinian rugby."

The Argentinian Rugby Union has decided that only players in the Super Rugby team will play for the Pumas and this has excluded top European players such as Juan Imhoff, a key try scorer at this World Cup.

But Hourcade said Super Rugby must be a new springboard to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Argentina took third place at the 2007 World Cup but then many of the players retired.

Hourcade insisted that would not happen again as the squad is younger.

"Out of this squad 25 players have already been signed, they will be part of the franchise.

"In 2007 many players retired and Argentine rugby suffered but this time we do not have to start from scratch. We will carry on going."

Argentina claimed one accolade from the World Cup as Nicolas Sanchez, captain for the play-off, will probably end as the top points scorer with 97.

His nearest rivals in Saturday's final, New Zealand's Dan Carter, and Australia's Bernard Foley, are still some way behind with 63 and 75 points respectively at the start of the day.

Sanchez said his side should have done better against South Africa, but was also optimistic about the future.

"The good thing about this team is that we were all playing for the team, not ourselves. There are players who have hardly played and they trained the hardest. That is what made us big."