Wednesday
October 22, 2014

Opinion

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A look at Pumas’ next rival: All Blacks

By Frankie Deges
Rugby column

Historically and statistically speaking, the All Blacks are the best team in world rugby. Their numbers are scary.

Since their first international in 1903 they have a winning percentage of 76,21percent, having won 394 of their 517 test-matches. At home they’ve only lost 37 times and in all and only five nations have beaten them: South Africa, Australia, England, France and Wales. Los Pumas have not yet been able to enjoy a win against them.

Their success rate is such that since the game went professional in 1996, they’ve won 182 of their 219 tests, for an 83 percent. In 1998 they lost, for the first and only time, five consecutive games; since then, their worst has been two consecutive loses (1999, 2004, 2009 and 2011); the last of these was in the build-up to Rugby World Cup when most of the best players were rested. Taking that loss against Australia in 2011, the All Blacks have since played 40 tests, won 37, drew twice and only lost against England by a huge 38-21 in December 2012, after a gruelling 12-test season. They won the World Cup and the Rugby Championship twice.

En 2013 they completed the perfect season, winning their 14 internationals, all but two by more than seven points. In the season finale they beat Ireland at full-time with a try and an angled conversion for an unforgettable 24-22. They haven’t lost so far this year although in the opening game of the Rugby Championship the Wallabies dared draw (12-all) against them. Huge mistake: the return game in Auckland saw the All Blacks win by a walloping 51-20.

Richie McCaw, one of the best players ever, is their more than able skipper. In 129 tests — of which he started in 123 — his winning record is 90 percent; he’s only lost nine times and drawn three while wearing black.

Against Argentina, in matches going back to 1985 (test stats do not include their four wins as New Zealand XV in 1976 and 1979, even if in Argentina we consider them), our best score was a 21-all draw in the second game of the 1985 series at the old Ferro Carril Oeste. In all, both teams have met 18 times, with 17 Kiwi wins. Points difference is 754 to 238 for an average score of 41-13. In this decade, Pumas and All Blacks have played five times: 33-10 in Auckland in 2011 (two All Black tries and one Puma); 21-5 (2t -1t) in Wellington and 54-15 (7t -2t) in La Plata in 2012; 28-13 (3t-1t) in Hamilton and 33-15 (4t-0t) again in La Plata last year.

On Saturday, in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, a proud Puma side will want to continue their ascending learning curve. Opposing them will be a home side that after their great win against Australia has sent a clear message to the world. They are, by far, the best team playing the game. For Argentina, the goal will have to be performing and staying in the game as long as they can. Small achievable goals to face a team that is on paper impossible to beat.

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