'France and Ireland were the best teams of the international window'

Argentina boss Mario Ledesma praised Ireland’s growth under Andy Farrell.

Peter O'Mahony after Ireland's 53-7 win.
Peter O'Mahony after Ireland's 53-7 win.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ARGENTINA HEAD COACH Mario Ledesma hailed Ireland’s impressive improvement under Andy Farrell after watching his side lose 53-7 in Dublin.

Ireland completed a clean sweep of their Autumn Nations Series by scoring seven tries against the Pumas as they backed up impressive victories over Japan and New Zealand.

Argentina weren’t helped by a second-half red card for lock Tomás Lavanini for his cheap shot on Cian Healy, but Ireland were thoroughly deserved winners against the Rugby Championship side.

Speaking post-match, Ledesma praised Ireland for their excellent form this autumn.

“France and Ireland were the best teams of the international window,” said Ledesma.

“Obviously, the level they showed against the All Blacks and how they dominated them throughout the 80 minutes was quite impressive so, yes, I would say they are a hugely improved team from a couple of years back.”

Nonetheless, Ledesma had frustrations with how his side let the game slip away from them.

“Obviously, the last 20 minutes is difficult to analyse when you come from a yellow card and a red card,” he said.

“I thought there was a big moment in the first half where we missed six points and then obviously that big opportunity [where Mateo Carreras knocked-on after a linebreak] when we could have scored and we could have come back to 17-14 or 17-16.

“A minute later they scored and it was 24-7 and then we saw in the second-half we had two good lineouts positions which we missed and then they scored again and the difference was pretty big at that point.”

It has been a rough 2021 for the Pumas.

They lost all six of their Rugby Championship games and this November window has included defeats to France and Ireland, as well as a win in Italy. 

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Ledesma summed up how tough his squad have found the year.

“The context that Argentina rugby has been in since last year when we lost our professional team [the Jaguares from Super Rugby] and players started moving to Europe,” said Ledesma.

“And obviously not playing at home for two years has been tough because we have been in a bubble everywhere we have gone. Sometimes we have a day off where we can go sightseeing but just for a picture and then we go back.

“It has been really hard on the players and we don’t have the budget to bring the families like some other teams do, so it has been tough and they have been grinding the whole year. It’s a big ask for players.

“We are always talking about player welfare and mental health and then you go two years without playing at home and being in a bubble… I challenge any team to do that, it would be a struggle. At the same time, it is not an excuse.

“These are the conditions we are playing in and we have not been getting the results. We expected a different result today and thought that up until yesterday we had a pretty good tour, a very good game against France, winning convincingly against Italy and then coming into this game with three weeks of work, obviously, we expected differently.”

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Murray Kinsella  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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