The bedrock of Argentinian rugby was once the scrum. Not many teams have been mentioned in the same breath as them since the Bajada was first introduced to the rugby world in the 1960s.

Essentially, the Bajada involves second rows binding on the hips of the props and filling their lungs with air following the engage call in an attempt to exert as much pressure on the hooker as possible.

The popularity of the technique has ebbed and flowed in recent years, and whether it is a coincidence or not, it’s probably fair to say Los Pumas’ scrum is not as consistently dominant in 15s as it once was.

The same is not true of sevens though. Using the scrum as a weapon to attack and a platform to score tries from – albeit with three players instead of eight – is still one of Argentina’s super-powers.

Anyone who has watched the thrilling action across the first four rounds will testify that SVNS rugby is still all about running rugby.

But data provided by World Rugby’s High Performance Analysis Manager, Matt Johnston, highlights how Santiago Gómez Cora’s all-conquering team are trend-setters in a less-celebrated but no-less-important side of the sevens game.

Argentina have made every final in the first four rounds of HSBC SVNS 2024, winning the last three, to top the standings by 24 points from Ireland and Fiji, and much of that success is down to their prowess at set-piece plays.

Antoine Dupont’s blindside move from a scrum, which led to him scoring against Australia from 40 metres out in his first SVNS tournament, was perhaps the most watched example of how tying in defenders in the centre of the pitch can open up space.

But across the three days in Vancouver, Argentina weighed in with a few of their own, as they have done all series. In 24 matches across the first four rounds, almost a third (31) of Los Pumas Sevens’ 95 tries have had a scrum as the source of possession. No men’s team has come close to touching them in this regard, but USA women’s ratio of 30 in 22 matches is fractionally better.

The same is true in terms of the lineout as a launchpad for Argentinian scores. Only three teams across both the men’s and women’s series have reached double figures for tries sourced this way, and Argentina are top of the lot with 14. The four tries they scored from a lineout in Vancouver was slightly above their series average of 3.33, so it appears to be a tactic that is becoming more prevalent, not less.

Looking at the restart, commonly regarded as the ‘third set-piece’, Argentina are no less dominant, scoring 25 tries from this type of possession. That’s just over one try per game on the series.

The Black Ferns Sevens are equally as dominant when using restart possession in the women’s series as a method of scoring, crossing the whitewash 24 times in 23 matches.

The second and third tries of Portia Woodman-Wickliffe’s hat-trick against France in their 34th Cup final last Sunday, for example, came as a result of her team-mates winning the ball at the restart.

Having failed to make the semi-finals in the previous round in Perth, New Zealand turned things around to win that match 35-17 and take their first SVNS title of the 2024 series, and there was a definite uptick in their performance at restart time across the whole weekend.

The Black Ferns Sevens regained three times the amount of ball in Vancouver from restarts than they did in Perth, with a success rate of 37% well above the tournament average.

With a five-day turnaround between Vancouver and Los Angeles, it leaves opposition teams very little time to work out a way to stop them bossing the game in this area. Still, unless they do, New Zealand could be returning home from North America with back-to-back titles.

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