March 10, 2014
New year has began
The new year has began and even if the temperatures seem to ensure our daily lives are sweaty and sticky, the oval game doesn’t stop. Last Friday and Saturday, the season started in Punta del Este, Uruguay, at their traditional sevens tournament. The game will take no breaks until Christmas.
It will be a year of a lot of activity in many different levels suggesting that it should be a most enjoyable season. Los Pumas face twelve internationals, the Pampas XV will be playing in Australia, the U20s in New Zealand at the Junior World Championship and the Pumas Sevens with a long schedule.
While they will be in the thick of things in summer, the season marks the first step into qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games that will be staged in Rio de Janeiro. Rugby lost its place in the Olympic agenda in 1924 — back then, when the USA won back-to-back gold medals, it was the fifteens version. For at least the next two Games, it will be sevens.
There is a well-planned map, drawn by new national head coach Santiago Gómez Cora. The former captain and star, focuses on delivering a good performance in two and a half years in the warm Brazilian winter.
Yet, the road is long. At the 25th Punta del Este sevens, Pampas VII finished third yet showed a couple of players that are fit to take the next step. Argentina sevens will play three tournaments in the next three weekends. The first this weekend in Mar del Plata, the second round of the first CONSUR Circuit that finished seven days later in Reñaca, Chile.
It will be a 2nd VII that competes in these two tournaments as the first choice side will be travelling to Las Vegas for the fourth round of the IRB Sevens. From there, after a week-long break, it is off to Wellington, the beautiful capital of New Zealand for the fifth leg of the sevens circuit.
The most important tournament this first half of the year will be the ODESUR Games that will be held in Santiago. Rugby will be played in the field the Chilean Rugby Federation has in the highest area of the city, right under the shadow of the Andes mountains. The importance of this tournament is that it will be a qualifier for next year’s Pan American Games to be held in Toronto.
Even if it hasn’t been announced, or decided, how teams will qualify for the Games, the winner in the Pan Am Games will certainly earn a spot among the twelve male sides that will, in Rio, aim for gold. Even, if Argentina stays among the top eight sevens nations in the world, they should nonetheless find their way to Brazil. Notwithstanding this and having lost to Canada the final in rugby’s first foray into the Pan Am, in extreme heat in Guadalajara, Mexico, they must re-establish continental leadership.
Sevens will continue, after the ODESUR games, with the rest of the IRB Sevens — Hong Kong, Tokyo, Glasgow and London. And the 2014-15 season will start towards the end of the year.
A sevens squad has been nominated and Gómez Cora has a well planned map and goals. We are in good hands.