With the Six Nations done and dusted and the attention shifting back to the weekly games of club rugby, We’re going to have a very early look at the next major internationals, being the June tests. They carry extra significance this year, as it is the penultimate time the northern hemisphere clashes with the southern hemisphere before the 2015 World cup, with the November internationals being the last.
So without further ado, let’s have a look:
Argentina – Ireland
The brand new Six Nations champions are paying a visit to Los Pumas this summer in what has become an interesting match up. The Irish are coming of the back of a very succesful Six Nations championship and will definitely fancy their chances. Los Pumas on the other hand have had a bad run of form as of late, with only a solitary draw to show for their efforts in the rugby championship since it’s inception in 2012.
The history between these teams is quite even, with Ireland taking the spoils 8 out of 13 times, and Argentina winning 5 matches in this fixture. Interestingly, Ireland has never won in Argentina, and Argentina has never won in Ireland.
Joe Schmidt has worked wonders with the Irish team, finally managing to make them the sum of their parts. In the space of one season he has turned around a team that came 5th last year into title winners. The 2 tests against Argentina will be instrumental in building depth in an aging Irish team. The most obvious position to fill is the legendary number 13 jersey. With Henshaw and Cave, there are viable contenders all around, and Payne of Ulster will become eligible in November, so this could become an area of strength for the Irish.
The Argentineans have had a very tough season. They lost all their games in the Rugby Championship, which led to Santiago Phelan stepping down as head coach. Daniel Hourcade came in as head coach right before departing on the end-of-year tour where they lost to England and Wales before finally winning against Italy in rome. Whether they will be competitive will depend entirely on whether they can call on the european-based contingent.
The Argentinean method of playing rugby resembles the 10-man rugby England had been playing for decades. Superiority at scrum-time lies at the basis of many of Los Puma’s victories, as well as frustrating opponents around the breakdown. Ireland will have to make sure to play in the right places, I.E. nowhere in their half. Tactical kicking and quick ball will be the priority for Ireland, otherwise Argentina will slow down the ball and choke Ireland out of the game. Martin Moore will probably have one of the sternest tests of his young career against Marcos Ayerza, and Jamie Heaslip will have to be at his very best to contain Leguizamón.
Ireland to win the series 2-0.