The last pride of the UAR: the Pumas 7 and their idea of Paris 2024
JM González
May 6, 2024

The tension and pressure dissipated with the referee’s final whistle. On the court, the Pumas Seven celebrated euphorically what is probably the greatest feat they have achieved so far. They beat South Africa 10-14 in Singapore, coming back from 10-0 down and reaching first place in the SVNS, World Rugby Sevens Circuit table. As the match went, the Argentines managed at the last moment, in this case on the last date, to secure being number one in the world. It is the last great pride of the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR), which went from receiving complaints 20 years ago to the top today.

The celebration of the Pumas Seven will go down in history, despite the fact that the World Tour champion still remains to be defined. Between May 31 and June 2, the final tournament will be held in Madrid, the winner of which will be the team that lifts the cup for the 2023-2024 season. Of course, what was done by the Andeans is not to detract from its merits.

The coach of the Argentine national team is Santiago Gómez Cora, one of the men who changed the history of rugby sevens in his country. His emotional celebration, tears in his eyes and disbelief in his eyes, is an absolute contrast to what he had to experience almost 20 years before, when he was on the field tackling and not outside directing. He was one of the team’s banners for a long time, even in difficult times. In 2007, in fact, being an emblem as a player, he led the team’s demands asking the UAR for better conditions for the discipline.

“On our side we always put a lot of dedication. We travel without money, without structure. But we need them to have the same respect for us”, Gómez Cora said in those years to the El Clarín newspaper in Argentina. The players at that time sent a letter to the UAR, in which they complained about aspects such as the organizational issue, the lack of preparation for the tournaments, the rotation of coaches and communication problems. At that time the Pumas 7 did not shine in the same way as they had four years before, when they were third in the 2003/04 season of the World Tour.

“We want to try to be able to do something for what is to come. The new ones have no idea what is happening, and they don’t know what or how to complain” Gómez Cora added to the aforementioned media. And the truth is that the panorama changed, since after the improvements of the UAR, the results also began to arrive. In 2009 they won the San Diego Sevens and in 2013, Gómez Cora himself took the reins as coach of the Argentine national team.

From then on, everything was history for the Pumas 7. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics they won bronze. In 2022 they returned to the titles on the World Circuit with the victory in the Vancouver Sevens and in the 2022-2023 season, they finished second in the competition that brings together the best teams on the planet. In addition, they won the gold medal at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

And all this to reach 2024 with a result as celebrated as it is historic. “I can’t believe it. I fought for this my entire career as a player and now as a coach. I can’t believe it”, Gómez Cora said after beating South Africa and securing Argentina’s first place in the standings. This season, the albicelestes won the title on three dates in the Circuit, a runner-up finish, an elimination in the group stage and two fifth places to secure first place.

The next challenge for the Pumas 7 will be the aforementioned final championship in Madrid, plus the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, where they arrive as one of the favorites to win the gold medal. Can the Argentines stay on top? We will have to see it in the coming months, where surely the desire for victory of a country accustomed to great sporting feats will continue to propel them to the top.

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