Argentina coach Mario Ledesma lamented two years of “bubble” life but insisted that was not an excuse for the Pumas’ poor results this year, which culminated in a 53-7 whipping by Ireland on Sunday.
Argentina, who have not been able to play on home soil since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago, have lost eight of their last nine Tests — their sole win came against Italy earlier this month.
Their record defeat against the Irish brought down the curtain on four months of the players being together, first in the Rugby Championship and then on their northern hemisphere tour.
Ledesma said the past two years have been trying for all those involved in Argentinian rugby at the top level and the results reflected that — the one bright shining beacon an historic win over New Zealand in 2020.
“Obviously not playing at home for two years has been tough because we have been in a bubble everywhere we have gone,” Ledesma said at his post-match press conference.
“Sometimes we have a day off where we can go sightseeing but just for a picture and then we go back.”
The squad is renowned for being a tight unit but 48-year-old Ledesma said they still could have done with some time with their families.
“It’s been really hard on the players and we don’t have the budget to bring the families like some other teams do, so it has been tough and they have been grinding the whole year,” he said.
“It is a big ask for players. We are always talking about player welfare and mental health and then you go two years without playing at home and being in a bubble… I challenge any team to do that. It would be a struggle.”
Ledesma, who won 84 caps as a player, insisted however that those drawbacks were not solely responsible for the poor run, especially Sunday’s defeat in Dublin which saw Tomas Lavanini sent off as the Irish ran in seven tries.
“It is not an excuse,” he said. “These are the conditions we are playing in and we have not been getting the results.
“We expected a different result today and thought that up until today we had a pretty good tour.
“A very good game against France (they lost 29-20), winning convincingly against Italy and then coming into this game with three weeks of work. Obviously we expected different for today’s game.”