Third place at the 2007 World Cup was the high point for a previous generation of Pumas, all European-based, and now a new breed are making their mark and reaping the rewards of high performance training at home.
鈥淲e aren’t surprised by the Argentines’ performance. They鈥檝e been in the 鈥楩our Nations鈥?for three years… They go through a World Cup level preparation every year,鈥?Saint Andre said.
鈥淭hey have ball possession even against South Africa, the All Blacks, Australia (and) they have progressed in their understanding of the game… They tick the high performance boxes.鈥?/p>
Saint Andre said some of his players needed to be able to put together a string of good performances 鈥渋n matches of this intensity and ferocity鈥?– something the Pumas have been looking for too.
He said it was not all negative and France had introduced fresh young blood, which is also precisely what Argentina have managed to do as injuries to established players have given newcomers the chance to show their mettle.
鈥淭here were lots of new kids who were up for the match (on Saturday). We made steps forward above all in attack,鈥?said Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade, whose team put over four drop goals, three from flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
鈥淚n rugby, a high percentage is down to attitude but you also need to play. We need both things.鈥?/p>
Hourcade鈥檚 methods and search for a more attacking game based on ball possession have been vindicated as he builds towards next year鈥檚 World Cup in England and Argentina鈥檚 entry into Super Rugby in 2016.
The Pumas began the season with three defeats at home in June, two against Ireland and one against Scotland, albeit without their experienced 鈥淓uropean鈥?players.
A solid Rugby Championship, in which they came close to beating South Africa in Salta, ended with their first win in their third tournament when they recovered from the Wallabies鈥?early 14-0 lead to beat Australia 21-17.
Now they have finished a November tour with more wins than defeats for the first time since 2006 after starting with a loss against Scotland before beating Italy and France.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)