Such was the disappointment among the Jaguares after their final defeat to the Crusaders that many were in tears in their dressing room, according to coach Gonzalo Quesada.

"Everyone probably imagines the guys must be proud and happy to be here, but the dressing is really sad, terrible," he said. "The guys are in tears because they went through a hell of a season.

"In a couple of hours their spirits might be higher, but it's good to know there's no mediocrity, either. The guys weren't just happy to be in the final."

Quesada struck as a gracious and eloquent figure after his side's 19-3 defeat in Christchurch. The Jaguares' defence was hugely impressive in the first quarter but once the Crusaders accepted that playing consistently attacking rugby was perhaps not the right approach in the wet conditions, the visitors were put under a lot more pressure.

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But while they stumbled over their only try-scoring chance of the match – a run by wing Matias Moroni stopped close to the line by David Havili and Bryn Hall – they have reason to be proud of their performance and achievement in making the grand final, and flanker Pablo Matera's man-of-the-match effort was extraordinary. Before this season they had never been to the playoffs.

"I think they will realise little by little what they achieved," Quesada said.

"No one could have imagined this a couple of years ago or even at the start of the season when we lost a couple of players too.

"It's great for our sport. In New Zealand, rugby is everything, it's a religion almost and you are lucky because I think it's a great way to educate our kids. In Argentina we are trying to make rugby bigger.

"The players wanted to be an example. The message of hard work, planning, keeping aligned, respecting each other, doing your role with max commitment and having good results is a great message and that's how big it is."

Quesada said he and his side took little notice of the complaint from some former Wallabies this season that the Jaguares, effectively the Pumas in disguise, didn't deserve to be in a provincial competition.

"No we tried to focus on ourselves… we are just a good bunch of Argentinian players doing our best and have the privilege of playing in such a completion. We expect all opinions… but we just tried to focus on giving the best of ourselves."