Preparation continues... but supporting soccer team
That today is a bank holiday does not change things as the country would have also been on hold for the FIFA World Cup semifinal against Holland. Whilst there is an element of history in that Argentina has not reached the last-four stage since 1990 and we are all on the verge of a serious nervous collapse.
Los Pumas share this sense of anticipation that has became part of our nation’s fabric since Saturday, as they finish their training camp today in Pensacola, Florida. The Rugby Championship is fast approaching and they have worked very hard on their fitness adding a technical aspect to what has usually been emphasis on the physical side of things.
When Argentina takes the field today in Sao Paulo, the squad will be on a plane flying from Pensacola to Atlanta en route to Buenos Aires. As Agustín Creevy, the new Puma captain, says in an interview that publishes today in Ámbito Financiero’s Al Rugby pull-out, “we’ll miss the first half but our manager is already working on securing a place in the Atlanta airport for us to watch the second half.”
“Hopefully, the plane has wi-fi and we can at least listen to the game on radio.”
Alejandro Sabella, the Argentine coach, is a rugby connoisseur, and has known Creevy and his father for a few years. Before flying to Brazil, they agreed to meet whenever their busy agendas can fit them. Creevy shares with every other Argentine, the hope that his friend can lead Argentina to a World Cup win. As an Estudiantes de la Plata supporter, he used to go to matches until his rugby career took off and it became very hard. Creevy now lives in Worcester, England where he continues to love soccer. “I am afraid of Holland; they are a very good side. If we have to go to a penalty shoot-out, I will have a heart attack,” he says with a smile.
Whilst in Pensacola, the squad watched the last two games. For that, they had to organize their training schedule. “Watching them all together was an incredible moment for us as a group.”
The long flight home from Atlanta will carry tired players after what was an intense two-week trip. The heavy task — gym work, fitness and rugby training (lineouts, rucking, skills) — under the hot summer sun has brought together a squad that is facing a huge task. “They all responded very well and there is a positive buzz amongst us.”
The squad lands in Buenos Aires tomorrow and will start working again on Monday, hopefully tired after the long celebrations of Messi’s team win in the Maracanã Stadium. There are two warm-up games against French club Grenoble on July 27 in a club to be determined in Buenos Aires and August 2 in Catamarca.
They will then travel to South Africa ten days before the Rugby Championship debut. The game will be played in Pretoria and this early departure is a change from previous years. Hourcade acknowledges that the team needs time to acclimatize in the altitude of South Africa’s veldt.
“I believe we will be fine in this tournament. I hope time will prove me right. We have worked hard and are ready,” concludes the captain.