The closest Los Pumas have got to beating the All Blacks
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: While Saturday’s test match in Buenos Aires should be a foregone conclusion, there have been a couple of times when the Pumas almost knocked off the mighty All Blacks.
Right now the all-time record between the two sides is 24 wins to the All Blacks and one draw, with the Pumas yet to register a maiden victory.
That one draw in 1985, which ended 21-all, remains a high point Argentinan rugby – but if the All Blacks had their way they wouldn’t haven’t even been there at all. The tour was a hastily arranged makeup for the cancelled tour to South Africa that year, which had been blocked by a High Court injunction brought about by two Auckland club rugby playing lawyers. Instead of the Highveld, the All Blacks found themselves in South America for the second time after first visiting in 1976.
While the All Blacks comfortably won the first test, the second was a different story. In fact, they came within a couple of inches of suffering an historic loss.
In front of a passionate crowd in Ferro Carril Oeste Stadium, Los Pumas put on an inspired performance against a strong All Black side that included the likes of Murray Mexted, Andy Haden and Dave Loveridge. It’s not like the visitors weren’t trying, either – Mexted scored a try, as did wingers Craig Green and Sir John Kirwan got two.
Legendary first five Hugo Porta scored all of Los Pumas’ 21 points via four penalties and three drop goals, and the final stages of the game was a goal line showdown. Back in those days, lineouts and scrums could be set as close to the try line as possible and the Argentines got one of each.
The scores were locked up going into referee’s time, and it all came down to this thrilling last couple of plays:
That’s one rough call off the lineout. Not only does Pumas blindside Gustavo Milano take it clean and charge forward, he looks to have set up a ruck. However, Australian ref Kerry Fitzgerald says he’s held up over the line for some reason.
The powerful Pumas scrum, of which their entire national gameplan will be based around for the next 15 or so years, shoves the All Blacks back over their own goal line. All that Ernesto Ure needs to do is flop on the ball, but he somehow knocks it on. Then that’s it, game over.
The crowd flooding the field after the final whistle probably thought it’d be just a matter of time before their proud, young test nation would go one better and knock off the All Blacks. But that result 32 years ago is as close as they’ve come.
For All Black legends Mexted, Haden and Loveridge, it’d be their last ever official international match. All three went on the infamous rebel Cavaliers tour to South Africa the following season, and weren’t picked after the ban they received.
Meanwhile, Hugo Porta’s legacy has been cemented as one of the greatest ever to play the game. His 21 points stood as the record for an individual against the All Blacks until 1998, when it was broken by Wallaby Matt Burke.
The two teams meet again in Buenos Aires this Saturday night, this time across town at Estadio Jose Amalfitani. The chances of it being as close as the 1985 fixture are pretty slim, but you never know what might happen if the All Blacks have an off day.