Pumas set sights on hat-trick of titles
Rodolfo Ventura has challenged his Classic Pumas to keep rewriting the World Rugby Classic history book after they successfully retained their crown.
Heading into the showpiece as favourites, Argentina handled the pressure masterfully, sealing a second successive title in scintillating fashion after a dominant 25-0 victory over the Irish Rugby Legends at North Field on Saturday.
While Ventura took the opportunity to savour the victorious moment, he was quick to remind the Pumas not to rest on their laurels, with his sights already firmly set on next year's tournament and the prospect of a hat-trick of titles.
“I don't want to say it was easy, but 25 points is a big margin and we are all obviously delighted to win our second title in a row,” he said. “In recent years it hasn't been possible for any team to defend their title, so for us to be able to do that is amazing.
“Every year seems to get tougher, so to come away with a strong victory and another title is just brilliant.
“We were convinced in our strengths and knew we were capable of winning, so it was just about going out and remaining calm when the opportunities came. Each year is a new story and we have to keep being a big part of that story because it is always an enormous satisfaction to win this tournament.
“We will definitely be back next year and hopefully we can build on this and secure the hat-trick of titles. Perhaps after three wins in a row we might be able to keep the trophy.”
In contrast to the Pumas' euphoria, Lee Dineen and his Irish Legends were left to rue to what could have been after falling narrowly short of marking their return to the event, after a 25-year absence, in the most memorable way possible.
Dineen offered his congratulations to the victors but remained adamant that the Irish could have given a far better account of themselves had it not been for the absence of a number of first-team players through injury.
Absentees included Des Dillon, Barry O'Mahony, Fergal Campion and perhaps most significantly double Heineken Cup winner Anthony Horgan, creating voids which Dineen believes proved pivotal in their shortcomings on the field.
“We've had a great week, a very tough week and unfortunately we just had too many injuries for the final,” Dineen said.
“However, all credit must go to Argentina because they were deserved winners, there's no sour grapes from our side.
“Argentina have set the bar and the standard in which the rest of us have to try and follow.
“I don't think we are too far off that standard and I believe without those injuries we would have pushed them a lot closer.
“We're left looking at them very jealously for lifting the title but we've had a tremendous week and I'm proud of everyone involved.
“We'll dust ourselves down and hopefully we'll be back next year to try and go one step further.
“This is great a tournament and we were delighted to return after such a long absence and be part of it.”