Ventura: Former glory counts for nothing
Rodolfo Ventura, the Argentina manager, has warned his Classic Pumas that their former success in the World Rugby Classic counts for nothing as the defending champions go in pursuit of a third straight title.
With the ever-popular event starting tomorrow, the Pumas will be looked on as pre-tournament favourites after storming to a successful defence of their title in scintillating fashion with a 25-0 victory over the Ireland Rugby Legends in last year's final.
However, ahead of their opening encounter against France tomorrow, Ventura has warned against complacency as he remains well aware of the challenges of being the team everyone will be desperate to dethrone.
“What we've achieved before doesn't really matter,” Ventura said. “Every time we come to Bermuda for the Classic, it is a new story, so for me it is better to forget the past and focus on the next chapter.
“We have to look forward because if we don't there is a danger of staying put.
“Obviously winning a third straight title would be great, but I'm conscious this is a brand new start and we're in the same position as everyone at the beginning of the tournament.
“Every year the quality of all the teams seems to get better and so it could be much harder to replicate what we have in the previous two years.
“South Africa look like they're bringing a very strong team, Ireland will be desperate to go one better than last year and you can never rule out the Classic Lions.
“We'll have the target on our backs in every game as the team everyone wants to beat, so that will bring added pressure.
“That will be the case from the very first game against France, which will be a tough match.”
Ventura will also have to deal with a host of changes to last year's championship winning squad, something he believes has its benefits as well as negatives.
“We will have around ten new players in the squad this year and that can have different affects,” he added. “In an ideal world you'd have the same team, but sometimes the new guys can bring something better to the squad, a freshness.
“I had eight or nine new players last year and it worked out just fine.
“The important thing is to make sure the new players understand the tradition of the Classic and just how much it means to us to be part of the competition.
“We will always be a part of the history of the Classic and this will be our 25th year of competing.
“It's always an honour to be involved and hopefully we can add another successful chapter to our story.”