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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 06:29 GMT 07:29 UK
Pumas produce the goods
Argentina are one of the up-and-coming powers of global rugby as their performances at the World Cup highlight.

The South Americans have played at every tournament and are the eighth seeds going into their fifth in 2003.

That standing came courtesy of reaching the quarter-finals in 1999 - their best performance at the tournament.

Argentina beats Ireland in the pool stages to reach the quarter-finals
Played 14 - W:4 L:10
1987: Pool stages
1991: Pool stages
1995: Pool stages
1999: Quarter-finals

However, their World Cup journey has been like a barren walk through the Patagonian Pampas before hitting the bright lights of Buenos Aires.

Following victory over Italy in their second match in 1987, the Pumas had to wait until their second game in 1999 for another win.

That run amounted to eight defeats in a row, a World Cup record shared with the United States.

However, unlike the US, they were never outclassed in all that time.

The Argentine pack are renowned scrummagers and their ability and strength proved enough to keep the team involved in a number of games.

In 1995, despite three losses, they were never beaten by more than six points.

That was down to five by the opening game of 1999 when Wales won the first match of the tournament, before Argentina burst into life.

With players of world class pedigree, most notably scrum-half Agustin Pichot linking the redoubtable forwards with backs, Argentina finally stopped the rot.

They beat Samoa and Japan to qualify for the quarter-final play-offs where they enjoyed their greatest World Cup victory to date against Ireland in Lens.

Early in the second-half the Pumas were 12 points in arrears, but slowly and surely Gonzalo Quesada helped his team claw their way back into the match.

The fly-half scored 23 of Argentina's 28 points, in a breathtaking four-point victory, but it was Diego Albanese's 75th minute try that set up a grandstand finish.

The Irish threw everything at the Argentine defence in eight minutes of extra-time, but the South Americans held firm.

Be it the efforts of that match or the flawed format of the quarter-final play-offs, Argentina were unable to reach those heady heights when they met France in the last eight.

They went down 47-26 in Dublin, but left the tournament with their reputations enhanced and a place guaranteed at this tournament.

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