The Pumas did not have a great 2019, in addition to losing all the Rugby Championship matches they were left out of the 2019 World Cup. Then, since that last game in the World Cup against the United States, they did not play any more official duels until last Saturday where they achieved something historic, defeating the All Blacks.
406 days have passed since Los Pumas’ defeat against England by the Japan World Cup 2019. The cast led by Mario Ledesma fell 39-10 to those of Eddie Jones and said goodbye to the World Cup through the back door. Days later, they beat the United States but only to decorate the third place in the group.
Ledesma planned a 2020 that would put him to the test and require him to achieve good results since the draw for the 2023 World Cup would take place at the end of the year. But, the coronavirus changed absolutely everything. In March, the pandemic generated suspension of Super Rugby disputed by Jaguares and from then on it was all bad news for the Argentine players.
In July, New Zealand and Australia announced their domestic tournaments and they returned to the ring. Super Rugby Aotearoa and the Australian shot all the All Blacks and Wallabies players. Meanwhile, Los Pumas trained from home and held virtual meetings.
In early August, the return of Los Pumas to training was announced. Casa Pumas would house those summoned by Ledesma, while the “Europeans” began to have some filming for the return of the competitions in the northern hemisphere.
Los Pumas training sessions had many twists and turns. Positive cases, sudden confinements and individual practices without contact or ball. Despite the complications, the Argentine national team began to build something that nobody imagined.
In September, Los Pumas left for Uruguay. There, they managed to make a bubble and start training important aspects of the game with contact. A tournament with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in Aussie lands was confirmed.
With sudden casualties due to paper problems to leave Europe (Díaz Bonilla and Pieretto), uncertainty due to the presence of South Africa in the tournament, a bubble ahead and the “Europeans” who would arrive later, Los Pumas undertook a trip to Australia.
The Argentine national team settled in Sydney and began a tough preparation. The players had their meals at the hotel and only left it to train. After two weeks, the players from Europe underwent the same process, while those who arrived from Argentina were preparing their first friendly.
The initial friendly against Australia Rugby Selection was an approved test. Despite a limited result of 19 to 15, Los Pumas managed to add minutes and Ledesma was satisfied with it.
With tries by Joaquín Oviedo, Francisco Gorrissen and Santiago Carreras, the Argentine team celebrated in Sydney.
After that duel, the long awaited was achieved. The players from Europe joined in and the Argentine team had his entire delegation training for the second friendly.
The game prior to their debut in the Tres Nations was very good for Los Pumas. They beat the same Australian team 57-24 and saw some really interesting moves.
In the last friendly match prior to the debut for the Three Nations, the Argentine national team shone at the Leichhardt Oval. (Photo: UAR)
Despite this, no one would imagine what happened a week later. All odds against, more than 400 days without playing, and the All Blacks really at an unstoppable level.
New Zealand had just lost to Australia and everything indicated that the starters would be much more than the Argentine team. But, the Puma claw reappeared as in the best of times.
With a Nicolás Sánchez on, a Marcos Kremer who did not stop tackling throughout the game, a Pablo Matera who in addition to being a leader became a bulwark, a Julián Montoya who further exalted the number 2 jersey that shone with Agustín Creevy and all the other men who left their lives in each ball.
New Zealand did not have a good day, but without a doubt that was generated by Los Pumas. The cast directed by Mario Ledesma had a perfect performance. Impassable defense, effectiveness and opportunism and above all a huge heart to achieve what nobody imagined.
Against everything and everyone, Los Pumas defeated the All Blacks for the first time in history. Perhaps the least expected day, perhaps when no one imagined it. And that led to everyone talking about what happened.
In his debut in the Three Nations 2020, the Argentine national team defeated the All Blacks 25-15, generating everyone’s madness.
An arduous road, that tough defeat against England seems to have been left behind. It is not wrong to say that Los Pumas recovered from that hard blow. And nothing more and nothing less, getting the most important victory in history, and the first against the All Blacks.