Argentina fly-half Felipe Contepomi has been looking back at a successful year for the Pumas whom he says have ‘grown up as a team’.
Four wins and two defeats in Tests along with a further two victories in the South American Championship, the qualifying tie for the 2007 World Cup, capped a remarkable year for Marcelo Loffreda’s team, who finished with a historic European tour.
Argentina defeated England 25-18 at Twickenham, followed by a 23-16 win over Italy in Rome.
In the final Test in Paris, Argentina went on to outplay France, before slipping to a narrow 27-26 defeat to end four-game winning streak against the hosts.
"In a whole, we’ve improved a lot as a team," Contepomi told www.ole.com.ar. "We demonstrated we have an enormous potential.
"The young players’ contribution was good for the team an we saw very important progress. It’s clear that in this national team there are not just 15 players only, but in each position there are two or three players, who fight for that place in the team."
During 2006, there were also some problems between players and the Union, which ended up with over 60 players going on strike.
However, the problem was eventually solved and Contepomi feels that the players themselves worked together to put their problems aside.
"We tried to focus on the games and I think it was not bad at all," he said, referring to the player unity.
Looking ahead to next year, the IRB Rugby World Cup in France is the main focus for 2007, with the Pumas paired in a tough group D, along with the host nation, Ireland, Georgia and Namibia.
Contepomi prefers to be optimistic.
"France have a very good history in the World Cup. They always play well in these tournaments. And Ireland are a team who have progressed a lot, so we are in a difficult situation.
"We’ll have to pass this Group of Death and we will see then," he added.