Sports in South America, Vamonos!
The practice of sports in Argentina is varied due to the population’s diverse European origins and the mostly mild climate. Association football is the most popular discipline and other sports played both professionally and recreatively: athletics, auto racing, basketball, boxing, cycling, field hockey, fishing, golf, handball, mountaineering, padel tennis, polo, roller hockey, rowing, rugby union, sailing, skiing, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Argentine achievements can be found in team sports such as association football, basketball, field hockey and rugby union, and individual sports such as boxing, golf, tennis and rowing. Pato, the national sport, is not very popular.
Argentina is one of the most important sport powers in the region, ending at the top of the medal count at the South American Games since 1978, with exceptions in 2002 and 2010. In the all-time medal table of the Pan American Games, Argentina holds first place among South American countries and fourth place in the Americas, behind the United States, Canada and Cuba. Despite a relative lack of success at the Olympic level in more traditional sports like athletics, swimming, and gymnastics, Argentina has had successful participation in other sports like association football, basketball, field hockey, roller hockey, padel tennis, polo and rugby union.
Rugby union is a popular and largely amateur sport. However, despite this amateurism, the national team have become one of the most powerful in the sport, finishing third in the 2007 Rugby World Cup and rising as high as third in the World Rugby Rankings (then known as the IRB World Rankings) immediately after. Since November 2004, Argentina have picked up at least one win over all the participants in Europe’s Six Nations Championship, drawn with the British and Irish Lions and narrowly lost to the All Blacks, who were forced to survive a last-second assault on their try line. In particular, the Pumas have enjoyed a dominating record in recent years against France, going 7–2 since 2000, with a total points against of 7.
For the first 20 years of the sport’s professional era, dating from 1996, most important Argentine players have emigrated to Europe (mainly to England and France). Probably the best known players are 1970s and 1980s star Hugo Porta; Agustín Pichot, Pumas captain during their 2007 World Cup run and later a key Argentine rugby administrator; his successor as captain, Felipe Contepomi; current star utility back Juan Martín Hernández; 1990s star and later Pumas head coach Santiago Phelan; Marcelo Loffreda, who coached the team during their 2007 World Cup run before leaving to take up the coaching post at English club power Leicester Tigers; and current head coach Daniel Hourcade.
In 2012, Argentina joined New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the Tri Nations Championship, which then became The Rugby Championship. In 2014, Argentina took their first victory in this competition, against Australia in the first round. Argentina further cemented its links with SANZAAR when the country was added to that body’s Super Rugby competition, which added teams based in Argentina and Japan in 2016.
The women’s national Field Hockey team Las Leonas is one of the world’s most successful, with four Olympic medals, two World Cups, a World League and six Champions Trophy. The national team won the World Cup twice; in 2002 and 2010. At the Olympic Games, it won the silver medal in 2000 and 2012, as well as bronze in 2004 and 2008. Las Leonas also won the annual Champions Trophy on seven occasions, in 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 and the World League 2014-2015. Luciana Aymar is recognized as the best female player in the history of the sport, being the only person to have received the FIH Player of the Year Award eight times.
The men’s national team Los Leones won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the bronze medal at the 2014 World Cup and 2008 Champions Trophy. The national squad also won Pan American Games on nine occasions and the 2005, 2007 and 2012 Champions Challenges.
See our field hockey package: https://www.igotravel.co.za/holiday/field-hockey-tour-argentina/
See our Rugby package: https://www.igotravel.co.za/holiday/15-day-rugby-tour-of-argentina/