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At the halfway point in the 2018 southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, Argentina stands at 2-2, their best showing at the midway stage since the event expanded to four nations. Victories over Australia and South Africa have proved again that Los Pumas can beat top tier fifteens.
Since the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Argentina have defeated South Africa twice, and recorded one win each against Australia and France.
In World Cup play, Argentina reached the quarter finals stage four times, and the semis twice. The latter placement is equal to Wales' performance and better than Scotland or Ireland. In the RWC 2007, they finished third beating France in Paris, and placed fourth in the 2015 RWC in a four-team southern hemisphere semi final.
The spotlight on Argentina's recent triumphs is especially noted by England and France, which, along with Los Pumas, Tonga, and the USA, will comprise Pool C in the next RWC in Japan scheduled to begin September 20, 2019. This will be one of the pools of disappointment as only two of these three top ten sides will advance into the quarterfinals. Similarly, Pool D lists three of the top ten with Fiji in tenth place.
In the 2015 RWC, Japan tied South Africa and Scotland in the same pool with a 3-1 record, including a magnificent upset against the Springboks. But, the Brave Blossoms scored no bonus points and finished in third place with no advancement. Bonus points were handed out for scoring four or more tries in a match, or losing by less than eight points.
Returning to Pool C in 2019, anxiety is starting to build in England and France, fearing Argentina's emerging prowess. England cashed out of the 2015 RWC, which it hosted, losing to Australia and Wales in pool play. Since their brilliant 18-match win streak, the Red Roses have been a dismal 1-5 in Test Match play, including a five-game losing streak.
France, the perennial bridesmaid with three losing Cup finals in 1987, 1999, and 2011, have played mediocre rugby in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
For Tonga and the USA, the bonus point system sets up the potential running up of opponents' tries to secure those valuable points.
The 2019 Japan event is now less than 365-days and counting. Argentina are poised again to be the spoiler against higher placed teams.