Pumas veteran slams Phelan
Pumas lock Patricio Albacete fired back at Santiago Phelan after the former Argentina coach cited divisions within the squad as the reason for his resignation.
Veteran Pumas lock Patricio Albacete fired back at Santiago Phelan after the former Argentina coach cited divisions within the squad as the reason for his resignation.
Phelan, in a bitter tone, addressed the media on Tuesday after his shock resignation ahead of the November internationals.
Although he didn’t mention any names, Phelan said he felt betrayed by some players, reportedly members of a clique formed around Albacete, whose behaviour was at odds with his coaching philosophy and values.
Argentine press report Phelan’s selection and choice of captain caused divisions in the squad, with some players backing captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, others Albacete and others an unnamed younger member of the squad.
"My decision is based on the fact that the certain parts of the life of the team behind-the-scenes were made public. These statements involved members of staff, caused a bad atmosphere and reflect a lack of respect for the whole team," Phelan explained.
"What happened is not the best way to handle a rugby team where principles and values are different. It underlined the fact that I have no control over these situations, so my decision is to step aside.
"It was a personal decision. After the Rugby Championship when these internal experiences were leaked to the press, passing responsibility for events that occurred, I took the decision to leave office.
"I informed the UAR [Argentine Rugby Union] of my perspective, I talked to the staff and made a decision to communicate it to the players, being up front and not disrespecting anyone. Unfortunately I could not tell all the players in person.
"I have clear principles instilled in me and so I decided not to be involved in the future. My feeling is one of pain, after many years of work and effort. I am convinced that I am being true to my principles.”
Albacete, however, suggested Phelan was making excuses.
"When you quit, it's too easy to say that it is the fault of others," the Toulouse lock said.
"He should take responsibility for his decision. Nobody betrayed him.
"His decision leaves us in a right mess for the November Tests."
Phelan added that he’s disappointed in the way his near-six-year tenure came to an end.
"I am grateful for having had this experience with all the support we had from the UAR, although at times we did not produce the best results or performances.
"We knew this was a process to grow as a team. We have all worked together to develop the players in the best possible way. I lived through good times and I thank my family and friends and all the staff and players.
"I'm leaving with the pain of not finishing this process in the best way."