Argentina favourites to seal third straight title
John Kane, the World Rugby Classic president, has tipped reigning champions Argentina to defend their crown once again and complete a hat-trick of titles.
With the 32nd instalment of the ever-popular event starting on Saturday, the Pumas will be looked on as pre-tournament favourites after storming to a successful defence of their title in scintillating fashion after a 25-0 victory over the Ireland Rugby Legends in last year's showpiece final.
With the likes of Eusebio Guinazu, a prop, who featured in the 2007 World Cup, among his 36 caps for his country, as well as other seasoned internationals Manuel Carizza and Gonzalo Tiesi, capped 44 and 38 times respectively among their ranks, Kane warned Ventura's side may be even stronger than before.
“Argentina will certainly be the team to beat once again for me,” Kane said. “They've won it for the last two years and will be looking to make it a hat-trick of titles.
“Argentina come here every year looking to be champions and this year will be no different. One massive factor is that their squad is full of international players who play to a high level.
“It's quite hard to know exactly what sort of squads will turn up but, for sure, I think they will be the ones to look out for.”
If anyone is going to dash Argentina's charge, Kane has backed one of the Classic Springboks, the Classic Lions or last years runners-up Ireland as their biggest threats.
The Lions will be led by Delon Armitage, capped 26 times by England and will be supported by host of seasoned internationals including Welsh pair Daffyd James and Ceri Sweeney, capped 48 and 35 times respectively for their country.
Butch James will be one of the standout players for the Classic Springboks, having helped his country to Rugby World Cup glory in 2007, while the Ireland squad boasts the likes of Shane Byrne, capped 41 times, as well as touring with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2005.
“I think the Irish, English and South Africans will have very strong squads,” Kane added. “The Irish, in particular, will be desperate to go one better then last year having lost in the final to Argentina in their first appearance in the tournament for 25 years.
“They'll come back this year with a very strong selection and where last year was a tester for them coming back they'll be back even stronger this time round.”