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SPORTS | 09-02-2022 20:56

Argentina rugby coach Mario Ledesma quits, saying he's reached 'end of cycle'

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma announces he is quitting his job for personal reasons, missing out on the chance to lead the team at the 2023 World Cup in France.

Argentina's national rugby team coach Mario Ledesma said Wednesday he was quitting his job for personal reasons, missing out on the chance to lead the team at the 2023 World Cup in France.

Ledesma, who took charge in 2018 replacing Daniel Hourcade, called it quits after poor results including a 53-7 defeat to Ireland in the Pumas' last game.

"It's a personal decision and it's nobody's fault," the 48-year-old said at a press conference. "It's not because of the players or the staff, it's just the end of a cycle. It was something I had thought about, which I had talked about with my family." 

"I always felt very supported by the Argentine Union (UAR), the staff and the players. It was an amazing adventure, with many good and bad things," he added.

The defeat against Ireland in November was the heaviest of his reign.

He ends his time in charge of the Pumas with a record of eight wins, three draws and 22 defeats, a success rate of just 29 percent. 

However, he leaves having masterminded a famous win against the All Blacks with the 25-15 victory in the 2020 Rugby Championship ending a run of 32 straight defeats and a draw against New Zealand.

That victory came despite the Pumas having not played for more than a year due to the pandemic.

"The way in which I have to leave is with the same integrity with which I faced the project – with all my passion," said Ledesma. "A cycle has come to an end, a chapter in the game."

The 48-year-old rejected reports that he was leaving because of an offer from abroad.

"I have a lot of faults, but my commitment is such that today I am leaving what I love the most. No team in the world is worth more than the Pumas," he said.

At the 2023 World Cup in France, Argentina face England, Japan, Samoa and a team from the Americas qualifying zone.

"It seems to me that this is the time to make a handover to give the UAR time to look for a replacement," said Ledesma.

"He led the team to the top. Thank you for what you have done for Argentine rugby," his friend and fellow former international Agustín Pichot wrote on Twitter.

Initial reports suggest Felipe Contepomi and Gonzalo Quesada are the frontrunners to fill the vacant post.

– TIMES/AFP

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