‘I guess someone will write a book about it.’
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma after his side’s 25-15 victory against the All Blacks in Sydney last night.
Argentina have been playing against New Zealand since 1976, when New Zealand sent a touring party to South America for a nine match tour. They played Uruguay once and Argentina twice, and although Argentina and Uruguay handed out test caps to their players for those games, New Zealand did not.
The first test match recognised by both Unions, was in Buenos Aires on 26th October 1985. The All Blacks won 33-20, but in the second test at the same venue a week later, the teams drew 21 all.
In total, including last night’s match at Bankwest Stadium, they’ve now played 30 test matches against each other. The draw back in 1985 has been the only one and, well…you know the rest.
There’s been some close calls; the All Blacks won 25-19 in Buenos Aires in 2006 and last year, the margin of victory was just 4 points as the visitors won 20-16 in (you’ve guessed it) Buenos Aires.
That’s not to say they’ve been the only close contests. Argentina led 13-12 at half time in their pool stage match at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before the All Blacks finished up 26-16 victors, and there have been other matches where the scoreboard has got away from them a bit after competitive displays.
I think most rugby fans knew that the first Los Pumas test win would eventually come, we just weren’t sure when. Given the circumstances around last night’s test, few would have predicted it would have happened then. The All Blacks, coming off the back of a loss to the Wallabies a week before (remembering the All Blacks hadn’t lost two tests in a row since 2011) and with arguably their strongest XV starting; the Argentines without a test match since last year’s Rugby World Cup and the most unusual of buildups. Players and coaching staff testing positive for COVID-19; players travelling from Europe and Argentina; two warm up games against Rugby Australia XV’s.
The common concern was they were in for a hiding. But if everything was so predictable, we wouldn’t watch. Los Pumas, just as England were when they beat the All Blacks in last year’s Rugby World Cup semifinal, were deserved winners.
‘Some of the boys haven’t seen their family for four months and they haven’t complained once….this is very special for us.’
Mario Ledesma summed it up quietly but effectively in the post match press conference; he said they’ll celebrate, recover and get back into it as they have another match against the Wallabies next weekend. The monkey is off their back but he knows there’s plenty more to do. Last night and today is about them. The inquest into the All Blacks can wait.
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