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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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They broke Irish hearts, but the Pumas have been a joy in this World Cup

Head coach Daniel Hourcade says he has no regrets about the way Argentina played.

Murray Kinsella reports from Twickenham

ANOTHER TOUCHING MOMENT as Argentina’s dreams of being world champions came to an end.

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe dejected after the game Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe utterly dejected at Twickenham. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

As his players down on the pitch collapsed onto the turf, exhausted from their ceaseless efforts to attack with ball in hand, Daniel Hourcade shed a quiet tear up in the stands. Proud of his team and unwavering in his commitment to their style of rugby.

“The players were very engaged,” said Hourcade post-match in Twickenham. “They never gave up until the last minute, looking for that try, and we feel a huge pain because we were very excited and emotional.

“We are very proud about these players and it hurts more for them than for me. I was feeling for them because they gave everything. They left their lives out there.”

The Tucumán native has been a central figure in the rise of Argentinian rugby in recent years, working with many of this World Cup squad over three years as head coach of the Pampas XV, before taking on the Pumas job in 2013.

All the way, Hourcade has been dedicated to an offloading, ambitious brand of rugby that also manages to get the Pumas in trouble.

Australia’s first try in this evening’s 29-15 victory at Twickenham was an intercept score, while the second came directly after the Pumas had looked to quick tap a mark inside their own 22, knocking on in the process.

Time and time again, the Pumas attacked from deep in their own territory, beating defenders and making linebreaks, but also putting themselves under serious pressure on other occasions.

Hourcade wouldn’t change a thing if the Argentinians got another shot at a semi-final.

Joe Schmidt with Daniel Hourcade Hourcade got the better of Joe Schmidt last weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Absolutely, I am completely satisfied,” said Hourcade. “I feel very proud of what the team has achieved, but Australia played very well and are a great team.

“If we played again, I would follow the same plan because this is what we always wanted.”

Indeed, Hourcade believes that the legacy of this wonderful World Cup adventure the Pumas have enjoyed should be their style. They have come up short in their goal of winning the tournament, but Hourcade says this approach is the long-term blueprint.

“There were many problems today, it was harder, but I think we’re on the right path. We’re following the path that we wanted with the ideas that we had in mind. It’s a learning curve.

“I’m sure we’re on the right path and this is what we’re looking for for Argentinian rugby. I hope this is shared by everyone and I hope the legacy is the way we play the game. The Pumas have always been very committed, but our legacy should be the way we play the game.”

There were moments of controversy in this semi-final defeat to the Wallabies, although none that truly decided the outcome.

Tomás Lavanini was yellow carded for a no-arms chop tackle on Isreal Folau in the first half, while there were questions from some quarters as to whether the final pass for Adam Ashley-Cooper’s third try was forward.

As classy as he has been throughout the tournament, Hourcade rejected the opportunity to complain.

Nicolas Sanchez dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Well, the player (Lavanini) stretched out his arms, there was a huge impact with the other player and he couldn’t close his arms. So I don’t think there was any intention not to do a tackle.

“But they (the match officials) have done the analysis, they came to a conclusion and we just have to respect those decisions.

Those things happen in a game. It may have been, it may not (that final pass to Ashley-Cooper), it’s in the past and we just need to accept it. The referee’s decisions cannot be questioned.”

There is one final fixture for the Pumas at this World Cup, with Friday evening’s clash against South Africa offering Hourcade a chance to equal Argentina’s World Cup performance in 2007.

Boks coach Heyneke Meyer compared the bronze final to “kissing your sister” and indicated that he has little interest in it, but the Pumas say they will be going all out to claim a closing victory.

“For us it means a lot, every game means a lot,” said Hourcade. “We will try to reach the top in every game and it would be fantastic to beat a great team like South Africa.”

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Murray Kinsella

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