Still smarting from their physical Rugby World Cup showdown with Fiji, the Wallabies have been warned by their own scrum coach to expect more of the same, and perhaps worse, from minnows Uruguay.
The Wallabies enjoyed a relaxed day off around Bath on Thursday, following a welcome pool session which soothed bodies bruised in Wednesday’s hard-fought victory in Cardiff.
If they were planning on an easier outing in their second match when they face the world No.19-ranked team on Sunday in Birmingham, a quick discussion with Mario Ledesma would’ve put them in their place.
The Argentine veteran of 84 Tests faced the fiery South American rivals on six occasions – and from his vantage point in the scrum, Ledesma saw every nasty act there was on the rugby field.
The former hooker said the “niggle” occasionally turned into “big fights”, and if anyone wanted to see more, he advised a look at YouTube.
Typically, one touch judge in those Tests was from each country – leading to some questionable decision-making, depending on which side of the field you were on, and Ledesma laughed as he confirmed both countries took advantage of that fact.
“(The touch judges) were blind on certain things,” he said.
“It was quite noisy, dirty and (there was) cheating.”
Times have changed since Ledesma debuted against Uruguay in 1996, and the vastly improved coverage of matches, which used to be recorded by just two cameras, has shone a spotlight on foul play.
But Ledesma has still warned the Wallabies to be careful not to be drawn into the type of “dogfight” in which Uruguay will excel.
“(Uruguay is) a really small country but really proud and quite patriotic,” he said.
“You see it in the national anthem when they get quite emotional.
“There will be some aggression but we don’t need to get into that sort of game – being dirty, disorganised and a dogfight.
“That’s what they’re looking for.”