Pumas primed for RWC'11 challenge
December 1, 2008
Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi receives The Hongi, a traditional Maori welcome prior to the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool Allocation Draw © Getty Images
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan and captain Felipe Contepomi agree the 2011 Rugby World Cup draw has thrown up a difficult pool for them although the teams will have an early chance to get acquainted when they meet next year.
The Pumas are to meet England - 2003 World Cup winners and 2007 runners-up - and Scotland plus one other European country to emerge from qualifying and a play-off winner after the draw took place in central London.
Phelan commented "the group will be very tough, as both England and Scotland are two first-class teams." He added: "Fortunately, we'll have the opportunity to play both of them next year. Anyway, there is a long road before the World Cup and circumstances will be different in the championship," he told the Argentinian Rugby Union website uar.com.ar.
Phelan was also relieved to avoid reigning champions South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. He continued: "We knew any options in the draw would be very difficult. Keeping the fourth place in the ranking was very important because we were seeded in the draw and avoided the teams from the Southern hemisphere. They are superior in comparison with the rest."
Leinster centre and fly-half Contepomi agreed with Phelan, saying: "Playing them next year is very good for us. It will mean a measure about how we are. The more we know ourselves, the better. We, Scotland and England are living a formation process. The team to do the job better prior to the World Cup will be the team with the best chances to qualify to the following round."
"All the teams are quite even. This time, we will not have to play the opening match nor meet the host nation in the group stage. We already beat the two teams we've been drawn with, but they will be very difficult to pass."
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup