Agustin Pichot was Argentina's greatest scrum-half, and to many, one of the greatest ever
Major teams: Richmond, Bristol, Stade Français, Racing Metro
Test span: 1995-2007
Argentina caps: 71 (69 starts)
Test points: 60 (12T)
In the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s maiden Rugby Championship triumph – a tense 21-17 defeat of Australia in Mendoza – emotions were running high. Even so, mercurial centre Juan Martin Hernandez had one figure in mind above anyone else.
“Many people were involved in making this dream come true,’ he said. “But I want to dedicate this victory to Agustin.”
The tribute was touching, not least because Agustin Pichot spent his entire career as an insatiable standard-driver. That role seemed to be magnified by the intensity of the international arena, and he became an icon of the 2007 World Cup.
Shoulder-length hair tousled around his collar and socks rolled down around the ankles, captain Pichot stood in the centre of circle of team-mates before and after each match. He spoke with conviction, cajoling them to work harder, congratulating them for challenging the world order.
By the end of the tournament, Argentina had beaten Ireland, Scotland and France twice en route to third place. To precursor his impact as an instrumental campaigner post-retirement – pivotal in introducing Argentina to the Rugby Championship and a South American franchise to the 2016 Super Rugby competition – Pichot underlined his talents as a superb scrum-half.
In possession, he probed around the fringes, pulling defenders around and releasing carriers. Without the ball, he harried runners relentlessly.
Pichot was 20 when he made a try-scoring Test debut against Australia in 1995 and remained with Buenos Aires amateur outfit Club Atletico San Isidro until joining Richmond in 1997.
Via an enjoyable stint at Bristol, he arrived at Stade Français and helped them to domestic titles in 2004 and 2007 as well as a Heineken Cup decider in 2005.
In 2000, Pichot captained Argentina for the first time in a 34-23 success over Ireland and was subsequently involved in overturning every Six Nations side, most notably England at Twickenham in 2006.
Speaking about the notion of Argentina one day winning the Rugby Championship, he crystallised his own ambitious philosophy. “We’re going for that, full throttle. Let’s dream.”