Pumas end tough year with record defeat: 'No excuse'

By Associated Press 22 November 2021, 12:00AM

Coach Mario Ledesma went into the rugby test against a rampant Ireland believing his Pumas could beat them in Dublin for the first time on Sunday.

After less than three minutes, he was even more heartened, after offloads by his side gave space for wing Mateo Carreras to step and surge clear for the opening try, a beauty.

But Argentina could not rely on its lineout, Ireland could, and the home side pulled away with a forward-dominated power game for a record 53-7 win over the visitors.

A hoped-for comeback in the second half was undermined by the defective lineout and a yellow card to No. 8 Pablo Matera and red card for lock Tomas Lavanini, and the Pumas ended up conceding 50 points for the first time in eight years.

Ledesma was rueful.

"We expected a different result today and thought we had a pretty good tour — a very good game against France (lost 29-20), winning convincingly against Italy (37-16),” Ledesma said. “Coming into this game with three weeks of work, we expected different.”

He lamented the damaging effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Pumas. The Jaguares couldn't return to Super Rugby so the players were forced to find contracts in Europe. They haven't been able to play a home test since before the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Pumas have been on the road since June, stuck in bubbles in Romania, Wales, South Africa, Australia, France, Italy, and Ireland.

"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,” Ledesma said. “At the same time, it is not an excuse.

"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. These are the conditions we are playing in and we have not been getting the results.”

Of their 11 tests, they won three and drew one.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

By Associated Press 22 November 2021, 12:00AM
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