Pumas consult psychologists to improve mental toughness

November 10, 2017

LONDON (AP) — The Pumas have met with psychologists to repair their mental toughness ahead of their European rugby tour opener against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Argentina has this year won only one match - at home to Georgia - and lost all six in the Rugby Championship. The Pumas failed to win a competition point for the first time since 2012 when they joined the championship.

They were also beaten twice by an under-strength England in June on home soil.

Yet, Argentina has led in several of those matches, including at halftime in New Zealand and in the first test against England.

They lost that first test to a last-minute try, and laid siege to England’s try-line over the last 15 minutes in the second test but couldn’t break the defense.

“It’s probably mental and that’s what we have to work on, so we don’t have those ups and downs during the games,” coach Daniel Hourcade said on Friday.

“Some of the players have consulted (people) in terms of mentality, some individually with psychologists, and some as a group with coaches.”

Argentina’s habit of fading in the last 20 minutes raises questions about their fitness. But assistant coach Pablo Bouza believes the problems are in their heads and not in the legs.

“Where we have to improve is to play 80 minutes at the same level,” Bouza said. “In the championship we played six matches and in three we won the first half against very good teams.

“It’s not about fitness, it’s about making errors so many times in areas we should not make them. That’s what we are talking about, the mental toughness to do it for 80 minutes.

“It’s decision-making. Sometimes the mistake is because of a person on the other team, but sometimes, no, it’s our mistake. Since the championship we have been working to improve this. We know what to do, it’s about what we do under pressure.

“Every time you play at Twickenham it’s a big occasion for the players, but we are thinking about how we play, the decision-making, the unforced errors, and what it will take to win.”

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