You could say it all started September 11, 2020 when, after so much uncertainty as a result of the pandemic that impacted globally, it was confirmed that the Rugby Championship would be played in Austraila.
After a step through Uruguay and the news of the hiring of Michael Cheika As an external advisor to the coaching staff involved, Mario Ledesma’s list arrived at the beginning of October: a mix between youth and experience, with the outstanding appearance of Juan Imhoff, who played his last official match with the Los Pumas jersey at the 2015 World Cup in England.
The external advisor of Los Pumas for the Tres Nations told what is one of its main objectives.
Much of that team arrived in Sydney on October 6, to continue its tuning while they carried out the mandatory quarantine arranged by the local government. During those first two weeks in Aussie lands, the selected one stayed at the Rydges Northwest Sydney hotel and trained at the Leichhardt Oval.
10 days later, news came that South Africa had made the decision not to participate in the SANZAAR competition due to South African government travel restrictions, player welfare and safety concerns, which is why the tournament went from being called Rugby Championship to Three Nations, as it was called before the inclusion of the Argentine national team in 2012. And also, immediately, the format changed: from playing six games to playing four each team.
It had already been a year since the last Argentine performance, what had been on October 8, 2019, against the United States and for the World Cup in Japan. But after all this waiting, the action was getting closer. After having been postponed so as not to risk the physical health of the players, the first game of 2020 arrived. On October 30, the Argentines beat Rugby Australia Selection 19-15 in a friendly, with tries from the debutants Joaquin Oviedo Y Francisco Gorrissen, and another of Santiago Carreras, who had his first World Cup experience, precisely a year ago. It started well, against a team that turned out to be more demanding than what the Pumas themselves believed.
Carreras, Gorrissen and Oviedo were pleased to support the conquests of the selected team in the friendly against Rugby Australia Selection.
November 3 was not another day on this long road. Not even close. It was the day on which, for the first time in this atypical process, the selected team carried out their first training session with the entire squad of 45 players, along with the 13 who had arrived a few days ago from their respective clubs Europe. It was at the Leichhardt Oval stadium, where Ledesma’s men would play their second game of the year, four days later …
Los Pumas’ third row was very active and effective in one of the dueling exercises, in which he connected with his teammate at Stade Francais.
Again, the team in front was Rugby Australia Selection. And again, it was a triumph for the Argentines, although this time the result was much more bulky: through a great performance, Los Pumas thrashed their rival 57-24 thanks to having reached the try in 9 opportunities! Brushstrokes of Sanchez, tackles of Kremer, runs of Juan Imhoff, a couple of tries of Lamb, another of Matera… The ‘European’ presence, definitely, made itself felt, in what meant the last preparatory match before the debut against the All Blacks next Saturday.
In the last friendly match prior to the debut for the Three Nations, the Argentine national team shone at the Leichhardt Oval. (Photo: UAR)
Some All Blacks that, by the way, do not arrive in the best way. Although champions of the Bledisoe cup and they have shown a great level in the confrontations against the Wallabies, last Saturday they fell to the selected host 24-22, for the second date of the current Three Nations, in Brisbane.
In a game marked by cards, where both suffered an expulsion, the Wallabies achieved a spectacular victory against the All Blacks.