2011 Inductee: Agustín Pichot

(IRB.COM) Monday 24 October 2011
 
 2011 Inductee: Agustín Pichot
Agustín Pichot celebrates after Argentina finished third at RWC 2007

IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No.46 – Agustín Pichot (1974-) CASI, Richmond FC, Bristol RFC, Stade Français, Racing-Metro, Argentina

Personal details

– Born: 22 August 1974 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
– Family: The third child of Enrique Alberto Pichot and Cristina Lopez Campagna, he has older siblings, sister Barbara and brother Enrique, and a younger brother Joaquín. His father, an accountant, also played rugby, as did his brothers who both played for the CASI 1st XV, while Enrique carried on as the club coach. He is married to Florencia Tachella Costa and they have two daughters, Valentina and Joaquina.
– Education: San Juan El Precursor School in San Isidro, which he finished in 1992. He studied marketing at the Bracknell and Wokingham College of Portsmouth University.
– Nicknames: Ficha and Gus
– Other interests: reading and music.

Professional career

Became a professional rugby player at the age of 23 when he joined Richmond in 1997 and is now a marketing consultant and businessman.

Rugby career

– Started playing rugby at the age of five at Club Atlético de San Isidro (CASI) in Buenos Aires.
– He started at scrum half, a position he played for his whole career. He played for all CASI age group teams and in 1993 was a member of the CASI Under 19 team that won the Argentina Youth Championship.
– In 1993 he was selected to play for Los Pumitas (the Argentina Under 19 team), with whom he won the Under 19 South American Championship.
– He made his CASI first team debut in 1994 and was part of the Under 21 team that won the Argentine title, while a year later he was the scrum half of the CASI senior team that won the National Club Championship.
– In 1994, while still technically a youth player, he was selected for the Argentina Sevens team that won the Taipei Sevens and was voted the Player of the Tournament.
– The following year he was retained by the senior Sevens team, captained by Pedro Baraldi, who played at Punta del Este Sevens.
– He made his Argentina debut v Australia on 30 April 1995 at Ballymore in Brisbane, scoring Los Pumas’ only try in a crushing 53-7 defeat.
– At the age of 20 he was in the Argentina squad for RWC 1995, but did not play in the tournament.
– He attended four Rugby World Cups (1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007), appearing in 14 matches across the last three.
– His last match for Argentina was against France on 19 October 2007 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Argentina won this RWC 2007 Bronze Final 34-10.
– He captained Argentina at both RWC 2003 (replacing the injured Lisandro Arbizu) and RWC 2007.  – He formed long-standing partnerships for Los Pumas with fly halves Gonzalo Quesada (16 times) and Felipe Contepomi (20 times).
– Only two of his 71 Tests were as a replacement, against Ireland in 1999 and Romania in 2003.
– He also made uncapped appearances for Argentina on three occasions, against Uruguay in 1998, a World XV in 1999 and Canada in 2005.
– A serious knee injury prevented him from playing for most of 1996/97.
– His first professional contract was with Richmond FC in the English Premiership (1997-1999), and he went on to play for Bristol Rugby (1999-2003).
– He made his debut for Bristol against Northampton in 1999 and became one of the key factors in the club’s success, along with fellow Puma, fly half Felipe Contepomi.
– After Bristol, he crossed the Channel to join Stade Français (2003-2007). He briefly joined Racing-Métro 92 (2007-2008), only to return to Stade Français in 2009, where he ended his club career.
– Selected by the Barbarians Argentinos in 1994 and the South American Barbarians in 1999.

Career records and highlights

– Played 90 matches in the English Premiership from 1997 to 2003.
– Reached the final of the English Premiership in 2002.
– One of the main cogs of the Stade Français team that won Le Bouclier de Brennus (French Championship) in 2004 and 2007 and were defeated finalists in 2005.
– He captained Bristol during the 2000/01 season, the first Argentine player to captain a European club.
– He also captained Stade Français in 2007, becoming the first foreign player to captain a French champion club.
– A member of the Argentina Sevens team which finished third at RWC Sevens 2001.
– He captained Argentina the Argentine team who won the bronze medal in the RWC 2007
– He made 74 appearances for Argentina, 31 of them as captain, during a 13-year career between 1995 and 2007.
– Seventy-one of these were Tests and he scored 12 tries. He played most Tests against France than any other country with 13.
– At the time of his retirement, Pichot was Argentina’s most capped scrum half and its seventh most capped player.
– A member of the Pumas team who reached the RWC 1999 quarter finals.
– Played seven times (scoring three tries) for the Barbarians, more than any other Argentine player. His first Barbarians match was against Cardiff in 1996 and his last against England in 2002.

Honours and Awards

– Nominated for the Olimpia Award, the sports personality of the year in Argentina four times in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001.
– Nominated for the The Konex Foundation best player of the decade award in 2000.
– Voted by supporters as the best player of Bristol Rugby in 2000.
– Voted by Midi Olympique readers as the best scrum half in 2004.
– International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) Special Merit award winner in 2008.
– A member of the IRB Awards Panel which determines the IRB Player of the Year winner.
– Inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in October 2011 as one of 19 Rugby World Cup founders, pioneers and legends.

Appearances summary

Against Matches Tries Cons Pens DGs Points Won Drawn Lost
Wales 8 1 0 0 0 5 3 0 5
England 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
Scotland 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0
Ireland 7 2 0 0 0 10 3 0 4
New Zealand 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Australia 7 2 0 0 0 10 1 0 6
South Africa 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Italy 7 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 2
France 13 1 0 0 0 5 4 0 9
Samoa 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Japan 1 1 0 0 0 5 1 0 0
Canada 3 (2) 1 0 0 0 5 2 0 1
USA 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Romania 3 2 0 0 0 10 3 0 0
Namibia 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
World XV (Inv) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Uruguay 5 2 0 0 0 10 5 0 0
Chile 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Total 71 (74) 12 0 0 0 60 36 1 37

(Non-cap matches in italics)

Tours and tournaments

– Rugby World Cup 1995
– 1995 Argentina tour of Australia
– 1998 Argentina tour of Italy, France and Wales
– Rugby World Cup 1999
– 2000 Argentina tour of England
– 2001 Argentina tour of New Zealand
– 2002 Argentina tour of Ireland, France and Italy
– Rugby World Cup 2003
– 2005 South Africa tour of Argentina, Wales and France
– 2006 Argentina tour of England, Italy and France
– Rugby World Cup 2007

Coaching and administration

– While he did not coach as such, he did a fair amount of work with the coaching staff of his former club Club Atlético de San Isidro (CASI).
– After his retirement from international rugby in 2007 he became a member of the High Performance Committee of the Unión Argentina de Rugby.
– In 2011, he joined the Rugby Committee of the Club Atlético de San Isidro.
– An active member of the IRB team that worked towards having rugby reinstated in the Olympics for the 2016 and 2020 Games.
– Elected to represent Argentina on the IRB Council.

What he said

“During the last 10-15 years, we worked really hard on the pitch to gain respect so we could be part of an annual competition (The Rugby Championship). At the time we were only playing three or four games a year, which wasn’t fair; so when we came into a World Cup, we were always on the back foot.”

“In the world that we live in everyone expects things when they happen to happen again. We’ve been there and know what it is and how it feels. Beating Ireland (in RWC 1999) was a very special moment for me, the team and all of Argentina as no one expected us to do it.”

“When the match finished (Argentina 25-18 England), I gathered the guys around and told them to understand that what happened was history … I told them that we were the first Argentinean team to beat England there (at Twickenham). I was saying it partly for myself, but also I wanted to address the young players because sometimes they don’t understand what it is to produce historical moments.”

“Argentina play for a love of the shirt. We don’t have bonuses if we win. The reason we play is to be one of the best teams in the world and to go into the history of the Game.”

What they said

Chris Thau (journalist, after the 1994 Taipei Sevens): “Pichot’s silky skills, explosive running and rugby nous defy his tender age and suggest he will, sooner rather than later, play for the Pumas.”
 
Mick Cleary (journalist, Daily Telegraph): “At the start of the decade, at the moment when Pichot took over the captaincy of the national side for the first time, Argentina were worthy battlers but lacking that edge of danger, that ability to see off top-ranking opponents. By the time Pichot headed off into international retirement after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the Pumas were on everyone's list of feared opposition.”

Marcelo Loffreda (a former Puma and Argentina coach): “Self-demanding, constantly striving for excellence and passion, these are some of the qualities that allowed Agustín to keep an exceptional competitive level, playing for great European clubs and for our national rugby team, Los Pumas, for more than 10 years.”

BBC Home on line, RWC 2003 preview: “Pichot has been the very essence of the Argentine national side since his debut at the age of 20 ... Pichot’s burrowing runs, with his flowing locks in tow, ought to be a feature of every Argentina game.”

Mick Cleary (journalist, Daily Telegraph): “Pichot, though, was the rallying point, the on-field Napoleon, with his straggly mane of hair and rolled-down socks, forever cajoling, forever goading. He was both shop-steward as well as ambassador, a man not afraid to speak out for the rights of his team. In that regard, he made enemies at home, going against the grain of the fiercely amateur set-up to seek his living by playing professional rugby abroad and setting an example for those many others who followed in his footsteps.”

Dylan Cleaver (journalist, New Zealand Herald): “He had an unpredictability about him that made for compelling viewing. Pichot would take quick taps when it was least expected, dart down the narrowest of blinds and, generally speaking, be a constant, ear-buzzing pest.”

Marcelo Loffreda (former Puma and Argentina coach): “First of all he is an exceptional person, of great kindness and humility. His first commitment is to the team (whichever he plays for). Always on the alert, a precise combination of intelligence and intuition make him an individual capable to deal with several matters simultaneously, without losing efficiency in decision-making.”

Additional research by Pablo Mamone