Agustín Creevy set to play in Rugby World Cup semifinals at 38. ‘Los Pumas are my life,’ he says – The San Diego Union-Tribune

In one of his first competitive scrums as a hooker, Agustín Creevy fainted.

The veiled center of a scrum is no place for beginners, especially in the days when Argentina forwards were schooled in the bajada scrum, where seven men directed their power through the hooker like the tip of an arrow.

In late 2008, Creevy was sidelined in Biarritz by a shoulder injury. Argentina coach Santiago Phelan persuaded him to return home to a high-performance center and learn to convert from flanker to hooker.

Creevy gained five kilograms (11 pounds) of muscle, and practiced throw-ins at home with a homemade hoop. Baby steps were necessary. His San Luis club played him at hooker and, in one game, a combination of effort and bad technique saw him black out. His first big game at hooker was in March 2009 for Buenos Aires against Tucuman. He came off the bench.

By June, he was captain of an Argentina XV at the old Churchill Cup. In November, his first test as a hooker was as a replacement against Scotland just before halftime.

“Nobody assured me of anything (changing positions). Even when I started talking to my loved ones, everyone told me, ‘You’re crazy, how are you going to turn back?’” Creevy told the Argentina Rugby Union website. “I thought if I didn’t accept, I would never play for Los Pumas. That was the most important thing. I made the decision alone and I jumped into the pool thinking only about the dream I had to wear this shirt.

“At first, I suffered from making the change, especially mentally. But I learned from experience and it has been the biggest success in my life.”

Creevy holds the Pumas records for most test appearances (106), most tests as captain (51), and most Rugby World Cup appearances (20). At his fourth World Cup he has a chance to appear in his first final when they play New Zealand on Friday at Stade de France.

The irony is how reluctant to play initially was this kid with a surname of Irish origin. Creevy is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic “O’Craobhaigh,” meaning “descendant of Craobhach,” a byname meaning curly(-headed) or prolific.

From a sporty but non-rugby family, Creevy had an arrangement to be picked up on Saturday mornings by the kids’ coach, but when the doorbell rang he would often hide. Pushed by the coach to keep playing, he was a dynamo flanker on the field.

He represented Argentina under-19s, and two weeks after his under-21 debut in 2005 he was given his first senior cap against Japan, off the bench.

He played three tests in 2005-06 and then he went to improve himself as a professional in France. Coaches said he should switch to hooker but it took him two more years to be convinced, and the lure of the Argentina jersey sold him.

Once he switched, Creevy had to bide his time in the test side behind Mario Ledesma, then Eusebio Guinazu before the No. 2 jersey was his from late 2013. During four years as captain, he led the Pumas to their second World Cup semifinal in 2015 with Julian Montoya as his understudy.

Creevy made way for Montoya heading into the 2019 World Cup.

It would be almost three years, and on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, before Creevy was picked by the Pumas again. His fifth Argentina coach, Michael Cheika, couldn’t deny Creevy’s form for London Irish in 2021-22, when he scored 18 tries.

“It’s admirable how, at his age, he’s playing some of the best footy of his life,” said Pumas assistant coach Felipe Contepomi, who played with Creevy over eight years.

Creevy will on Friday become the oldest player to appear in a semifinal at 38 years, 219 days, surpassing Victor Matfield for South Africa in 2015.

He’s older than Ireland’s just-retired Jonathan Sexton by four months and New Zealand’s retiring Sam Whitelock by more than three years, and he’s far from finished. After London Irish went bust in June, Creevy was picked up for this season by Sale Sharks, the runner-up last season in the English Premiership. The club is in Manchester and his family is in London, but he’s determined to make it work.

“Everything I have done in rugby is to put on the Argentina shirt,” Creevy told ESPN. “All the decisions I have made in my rugby life are for Los Pumas, to give them my best. I enjoy it.

“I love this jersey, that’s why I signed with Sale Sharks, to continue at the highest level. I feel good physically and Los Pumas are my life.”


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Julieta Elena

Tiene más de 5 años de experiencia en la redacción de noticias deportivas en línea, incluyendo más de cuatro años como periodista digital especializado en fútbol. Proporciona contenido principalmente relacionado con el fútbol, como avances de partidos y noticias diarias. Forma parte de desde abril de 2023.

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