Argentina might not be the first team people think of when they talk about favourites to lift the Melrose Cup, but their recent IRB Sevens World Series success in San Diego has alerted other teams to beware the Pumas.Captain Santiago Gomez Cora, who scored one of the three tries in the 19-14 victory over England in the final in San Diego, believes this result proves Argentina are a team that can win tournaments – including Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009.
“We now have trust in our team,” explained Gomez Cora. “Before San Diego we had a good team in the World Series but we didn’t think we could win a tournament. That tournament gave us a lot of trust and belief to know we can win tournaments again.
“The World Cup is different but teams are similar to the ones in San Diego, except maybe Fiji who have brought in some professional players, but we always believe in ourselves.”
Gomez Cora, whose brother Pablo is also in the 12-man squad, is relishing the prospect of starting the campaign against their neighbours (Uruguay), who he describes as “like brothers”.
The danger-man: Santiago Gomez Cora
South American classic
“It is a classic, a South American classic, so it is very exciting. They are a very good team. All the matches are important but this is different because they are Uruguay. We know them from South America, they are our neighbours, like our brothers, and we hope to have a very good match.
“It is lovely to play with my brother. He is not just my brother but my friend in life. It is lovely to be a part of the World Cup with him and in the World Series. He missed the last World Cup because of a problem in his knee so he has been waiting for this for a long time after missing the last one.”
Argentina currently lie fourth in the World Series at the halfway stage after their victory in San Diego and Cup semi-final appearances in George and Wellington.
Yet while head coach Duncan Forrester shares his captain’s optimism, he is cautious not to get too carried away. “The guys are confident, they know we have a good team, but they also know Argentina can be the best team one time but also one that can lose against the worst if we get distracted. We have been working on our concentration so we win the games we have to,” Forrester said.
“I know our opponents respect us; we respect every team too. The win in San Diego gave us a bigger ambition but we have to give 110 percent to win the games because if not we will lose.”
Speaking about his captain Gomez Cora, who admits he is likely playing in his last RWC Sevens, Forrester was full of praise. “He brings a lot of experience. He has played for the last 10 years, scoring a lot of tries, but he is also very important for the other players, as is his brother. They both bring a lot of experience, as does Lucio (Lopez Fleming).
“In a World Cup it is good to have this experience and it is different to the World Series. Having him in the team means he does not just bring good play, he brings a lot of experience, too.”
(IRB Wednesday March 4, 2009)
South Africa plays Argentina in the fourth Cup Quarter-final match of Day 3 at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai (14h12 local, 12h12 SA)
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