May 22, 2013
Pumas lose 13-9 to England
By Rolando Meninato
For the Herald
DUNEDIN, New Zealand
Great game by the Pumas tonight at Dunedin, New Zealand, a picturesque city of just over one hundred thousand people in the deep South of this beautiful island. Even though the Argentina team came to the South Island as underdog, they played the best match since the world cup in France in 2007.
And it was close, with both kickers missing several penalties. Johnny Wilkinson, probably the best kicker in the world missed 5 penalties, two of them easy ones, and Martin Rodriguez Burruchaga a very good player also missed 5 penalties, plus the two that Felipe Contempomi could not convert makes this a very unusual match.
The beautiful Dunedin received us with good weather, nice temperature and sun in this coastal city of New Zealand’s South Island, almost one thousand kilometers South of Auckland where last night we were fortunate to see a beautiful opening ceremony followed by a poor performance by the All Blacks.
The Otago University stadium where Argentina lost to England 13 to 9 is the only roofed stadium in this country. It is a beautiful stadium, and the grounds were in great shape. Many Argentines visiting this part of the world, perhaps more than British, and a strong support from the local residents that rooted mostly for Argentina.
The match was a fierce battle of two packs of forwards that never gave up, with a slight control of the game by Argentina in the first sixty minutes and then loosing the possession in the last twenty minutes, when England scored the only try of the match after a succession of mauls in the 5 yard line trying to push the Argentina defense in. But the concentration failed for one fatal second, and Ben Youngs, who since he came into the game had given England the sharpness and mobility they needed, scored a very nice try very close to the posts. This was a fatal blow, since the Pumas had given all their best efforts in controlling a match that was very tough since the first minute, and during which they had two of their best players with quite serious injuries.
Now our players have one week to rest and face a Rumania that almost surprised Scotland today with a major upset, since with less than twenty minutes to go they were ahead by five points and then tied in twenty four points a piece.
It is very difficult to mention the best players in the Pumas, but the forwards as a whole had to defend the from the great English pack, and in spite of the changes in the backs, they played the best game in a long time, with good runs and passes that put the English defense under severe pressure for long periods of time.
Now it is midnight in Dunedin, and the party is still going, with the English fans very excited for their win, but with the cordial atmosphere and great interactivity of this beautiful city. Us the Argentines have to wait one week to see the Pumas win their first match, and the English probably worried because they did not think that they would have to suffer so much to win the opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. This is the tribute to the Pumas, always performing at their best in these kind of challenges. The Rugby World Cup has just started, in great way for Argentina and England, let's hope they both use the lessons from this game to balance their game and win their pools to go the next phase.
*Former President of Belgrano Athletic Club, Buenos Aires.