Argentina could not even have dreamed about facing Australia at Twickenham in the Rugby Championship 10 years ago, according to Juan Manuel Leguizamon.
The Pumas’ veteran back-row forward has admitted his nation’s rugby outlook has changed beyond recognition across the course of his own 11-year Test career.
Leguizamon is relishing his status as Argentina’s elder statesman this week, at 33 the old man of the Pumas squad chasing a second victory of this year’s Rugby Championship at Twickenham on Saturday.
The former London Irish flanker has admitted he is delighted to be back on familiar territory — and hopes hosting a Rugby Championship match in the northern hemisphere can become a regular event for Argentina.
“To be honest I would never have imagined we would be where we are when I started playing for the Pumas,” said Leguizamon, who made his Argentina debut in 2005. “It’s amazing, the job that our union did, bringing the Jaguares team into Super Rugby, putting the Pumas in the Rugby Championship.
“I would never have imagined it. We’re very happy to have these opportunities.”
Argentina will break new ground in the Rugby Championship by hosting the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday. The competition’s first match staged in the northern hemisphere represents a bold move by tournament bosses SANZAR, but one that has generally excited coaches and players.
Australia boss Michael Cheika admitted the Wallabies could have taken a dim view if asked to trade a home fixture for the Twickenham trip, but Argentina had few qualms in doing exactly that.
“We are really happy to be here, we love London and England and it’s amazing to be playing at Twickenham again,” said Leguizamon. “We are enjoying it and all very happy to be here. It’s a great opportunity to take, and it’s all about enjoying this week.
“I would love to have this more regularly, definitely. I love London, having played for London Irish for three years.
“If we could do this once a year it would be amazing.
“I think it’s great for the sport, initiatives like this. Obviously it’s amazing to play in Argentina, but it’s brilliant for us too to be a part of a move like this.
“It’s unbelievable for us how far we’ve come in the last decade, but at the same time this is where we are and we need to take these chances.
“We are improving and we are doing better but we need to keep moving forward, keep improving.
“We are looking for better results and to make steps forward.”
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