Pichot wants chance for Samoan success again

Agustín Pichot has fond memories of past battles against the Manu Samoa, and hopes to pave the way for them to once more be successful on the international stage.

The former Argentina halfback is running for election as the next chairman of World Rugby, where he would prioritise making the global game more fair for the likes of Samoa.

He told the Samoa Observer he had planned to visit the country last month before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of international  flights around the world.

Pichot was already scheduled to meet with the Samoa Rugby Union’s chairman, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, and chief executive officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i.

“I was looking forward to just listening to Samoa, to talk about the plans and tell them my vision,” he said.

“I had a long talk to Michael Jones about Samoa as well.”

The Manu have played Argentina just four times in the unions’ respective histories, and Pichot was part of two of those fixtures.

He remembers their match at the 1995 Rugby World Cup well, being named to the bench for Samoa’s 32-26 win.

“I grew up watching as a fan the ’91 World Cup [where the Manu defeated Los Pumas 35-12], and then I had the luxury to play against top Samoan players,” Pichot said.

“I have a lot of respect, and I always had great relationships with the Samoan players.”

He started at halfback in Argentina’s one victory over Samoa (32-16 at the 1999 World Cup), and didn’t play in the nations’ most recent encounter, a 28-12 win to Samoa in 2005.

“Thankfully I didn’t play them again, they were very tough to play against,” Pichot said. 

“And thank God I never played against Brian Lima!”

He named hooker Trevor Leota and loose forward Junior Paramore among the best he played against for club and country.

“[Paramore] used to play for Gloucester when I was in Bristol,” Pichot said.

“Each time I had to go near him it was like playing against somebody who was possessed! An amazing rugby player.

“I remember once after a game I talked to him and I said, ‘Junior please explain you are the nicest person I’ve met outside of the pitch,’ and he said well rugby for us, on the pitch we transform.”

The Argentine counts himself lucky to have played with the legendary Papaliitele Peter Fatialofa in a World XV in 1996:

“I love that guy. We spent some time together and he was an amazing person, one of the top characters of the game.”

Thanks to his time as a rugby player, observer and administrator, Pichot has come to respect the Samoan people as a whole, saying they bring something very special to the game.

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