With the pandemic causing a resounding paradigm shift, the 2020 Rugby Championship became Three Nations and it will be played without South Africa starting next weekend between Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. All games will be in Aussie territory. Will the 2019 edition have been the last with the format that the tournament had been having since the incorporation of the blue and white team in 2012?
As always in a year of the World Cup, the tournament format was reduced. The Pumas with the focus on Japan hosted New Zealand and South Africa, and visited Australia. There were no victories in that year and the image was not the best for later traveling to the RWC, where finally Los Pumas could not overcome the first round.
Side B of a historic meeting in Velez in which the Argentine team fought to the end against the Men in Black.
The tournament was won by the Springboks, which as an omen they anticipated what they were going to do in the World Cup, where they obtained their third crown after beating England in the final.
The Pumas arrived with great expectations, thanks to the level shown by Jaguares after falling in the Super Rugby final against Crusaders. It was practically the same team, a demand that was undoubtedly felt in the final stage of the season, including the World Cup. The debut was highly anticipated, against the All Blacks and at the José Amalfitani Stadium. The men in black saved some players thinking about dosing minutes and Argentina prepared to get a historic victory. The game was very even and those led by Mario Ledesma reached the last play with the scoreboard 16-20, and the possibility of winning it in the throes of the match, with the formula of the line and maul. However, the liveliness and experience of the New Zealanders was more, they blocked the maul and with that infraction they took the game. In the other match, South Africa clearly edged the Wallabies in Johannesburg 35-17.
The second day was opened by the two great candidates, with a great job from South Africa in Wellington, tying the All Blacks, in 16 goals. On the other hand, Argentina traveled to Brisbane, and although this time he did not play so well, he was also within shot against the Australians. The drop by 16 to 10, left the feeling that the team was close again, after two defeats by less than seven goals, in just one week and against the two powers of Oceania.
The final date began with a categorical victory for Australia over New Zealand, by 47 to 26, taking advantage of the numerical superiority they had due to the expulsion of Scott Barrett, at the end of the first stage. The closing was in Salta, where the Springboks they overwhelmed Los Pumas, with a forceful fall 46 to 13, to take the title for the first time since the four nations compete.
In this match, South African number ten, Handré Pollard, set the Rugby Championship points record with 31 goals (two tries, five penalties and three conversions) to exceed the 30 that Beauden Barrett had since 2018, against Australia.
In addition, Pollard was the top scorer of the tournament, with 42 goals. While on the try table, Springboks backup scrum-half Herschel Jantjies was the big reveal, sharing first place with Australian Reece Hodge, both with three wins.
The Pumas had a line on the end that could give them the first victory over the All Blacks. But the visit took over the play. This is how it was lived from within.
Los Pumas in detail
The Squad (30 players were used): Alemanno, Bertranou, Boffelli, Cordero, Creevy, Cubelli, Díaz Bonilla, Ezcurra, Figallo, Herrera, Isa, Kremer, Lavanini, Leguizamón, Lezana, Matera, Medrano, Montoya, Moroni, Moyano, Orlando, Ortega Desio, Petti, Socino, Sánchez, Tetaz Chaparro, Tuculet, Urdapilleta, Vivas and De la Fuente.
Those who played the most (3 games): Alemanno, Cubelli, Figallo, Lezana, Matera, Montoya, Moroni, Moyano, Petti, Sánchez, Tetaz Chaparro, Tuculet, Vivas and De la Fuente.
So many in favor: 57
So many against: 106
Goal scorer: Nicolás Sánchez: 19 (five penalties, two conversions)
Tries: 3, Boffelli, Cordero and Isa.
Tries against: 8
Yellow: Did not have.
More minutes in the tournament: Moyano and De la Fuente (240), Matera (226), Moroni (225) and Cubelli (201).