A friend sent a message from Argentina as this morning’s Rugby World Cup match finished saying the Pumas can’t play at that level for 80 minutes and the All Blacks can.
I happened to wake up early and watched the game live and agree with that statement.
The Pumas played well and won the first half. But the team seemed to run out of steam towards the end while the All Blacks went up another gear and won in the end 26 – 16.
The All Blacks’ World Cup campaign begins tomorrow morning (NZ time) with a match against the Pumas.
Our team is number one in the world and among the favourites to win the Cup but championships have to be taken game by game.
The Highlanders’ win over the Hurricanes in this year’s Super Rugby final is a recent reminder that an underdog can beat a favourite and this mornings Pool B match reinforced that.
Who would have thought that Japan’s Cherry Blossoms would beat South Africa’s Springboks at all, let alone 34 – 32? Georgia’s 17 – 10 win against Tonga was also a surprise.
And wasn’t it an unexpected win by Argentina against the French hosts in a previous Cup opener which led to the French meeting, and beating, the All Blacks in the quarter-final?
All my fingers and toes are crossed for the All Blacks because in spite of all they’ve done to prepare, their fitness, tactics and skill, luck will play a part in which team makes it to the final and which wins the Cup.
The expansion of the Tri Nations to include the Pumas in the Rugby Championship is good for the sport.
I don’t think I was alone in getting a bit bored with New Zealand playing Australia and South Africa so often and the addition of Argentina injects fresh interest.
It will also help the team.
The Pumas started as the under-dogs but their draw with South Africa in Mendoza shows they are competitive.
If they were playing any other team tonight I’d be backing them.
But when they play New Zealand my affection for Argentina takes a step back and black trumps blue in my emotions.
Sartorially though it’s a bit tricky because while like most New Zealanders I have a lot of black in my wardrobe I also have a lot of blue.
That reflects how I feel about tonight’s game.
The blue shows I hope the Pumas play well, the black shows I hope they don’t play too well.
Air New Zealand is trialling flights to South America with a charter flight for fans going to the first four nations Rugby Championship match between the All Blacks and Pumas in Argentina.
Radio NZ reports the company is watching developments in the region before scheduling regular flights.
. . . But the airline did announce its first foray into South America, with a flight in September using its black Boeing 777-300.
The charter flight will be aimed at All Blacks fans travelling to Buenos Aires for the team’s first game against Argentina in the expanded Four Nations competition.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe says the airline is very interested in South America as a potential route in its global network.
He says the company hasn’t yet made a decision about its overall strategy for South America.
Mr Fyfe says the Brazilian airline TAM is about to go through a merger with Chile’s LAN and Air New Zealand wants to see which alliance the new airline LATAM ends up in before finalising its preferred strategy.
When we went to Argentina a couple of weeks ago there were no Star Alliance airlines flying to South America.
The options were a direct flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas Argentina, Lan Chile which goes Auckland-Santiago-Buenos Aires, Qantas which would have necessitated flying east to Sydney before flying west or Emerites which is the long way round and required a two-day stop in Dubai en-route.
The Aerolineas flight is 11 1/2 hours there and 13 home which isn’t too bad but an Air New Zealand flight or a Star Alliance option would be even better.
Football is the most popular sport in Argentina but we met some rugby fans when we were there who were pleased the Pumas were joining the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.
That was a very good game of rugby.
I’m delighted the All Blacks won and that Los Pumas played well.
Muchas gracias, Argentina, jugué muy bien. (Thank you Argentina, you played very well).
Next year’s Four Nations tournament could be very exciting.
If Argentina was playing any other team than the All Blacks I’d be backing Los Pumas.
Since they are playing New Zealand I’m saying vamos Argentina pero no demasiado bien – play well Argentina, but not too well.
I’m conflicted with the other quarter-final game.
I want the winner to be whichever team the All Blacks are most likely to defeat should we get through to the next round and I’d like that to be Australia. But my farmer who knows far more about rugby than I do and who was in Brisbane to for the last Tri-Nations game when the Wallabies beat the All Blacks, reckons South Africa might be an easier semi-final opponent.
We were at a 21st birthday party last night but what from what I saw of the two games, Wales deserved its 22-10 victory over Ireland and the French earned their semi-fianl spot by beating England 19 -12.
When I wrote yesterday’s post on the Rugby World Cup I said I was going to back England.
But when I got to Otago Stadium last evening I had a change of heart and swapped my allegiance to Georgia.
The team played really well and I think the 41-10 score flattered the English. They deserved to win but not by that margin.
Georgia spent a lot of time in England’s half and though they weren’t able to turn territory into points they kept up the pressure until the final whistle.
They didn’t win the game but they did win hearts, including mine.
It’s good for the tournament and for rugby that the minnows are giving the bigger fish more than a run for their money.
Canada started well and scoring 19 points to France’s 46 would have given Les Bleus cause for concern.
I didn’t see or hear the game between Wales and Samoa but reports suggest the 17-10 victory to the Welsh didn’t come easily.
Our decision to go to the game in Dunedin last evening was a last minute won but booking online secured us seats in the front row at half way which gave us a very good view.
Among the people sitting near us were several Argentineans. They are following the Pumas all around New Zealand and attending other random games which fit their travels.
My Spanish is a bit rusty but the gist of what one of them told me was that he had travelled all over the world but never thought of coming to New Zealand before. However, he and his travelling companions were having a wonderful time, the country is beautiful, the people friendly and they’re enjoying the food and wine.
That is exactly the sort of off-field benefits to New Zealand the organisers are hoping for.
Headline of the day: Brave Blossoms no match for All Blacks.
Is this the first time in the history of the English language that that adjective and noun have been used together?
There was no surprise in the All Blacks win last night, but Japan deserves credit for improvement and it’s a good sign for rugby that the game didn’t end up with a cricket score.
Today I’m backing blue again taking the Pumas in their game against Romania.
It’s a bit harder to choose between the Wallaibes and Ireland but I’ll go for our southern neighbours as I usually do unless they’re playing us.
I’m sticking with neighbours in the other game too, backing Fiji against the Springboks.
A friend was on a flight which landed in Dunedin shortly before the plane carrying the Pumas touched down last Thursday.
They were greeted by a large crowd and she said the excitement was infectious.
It wasn’t, however, a patch on the enthusiastic welcome the Tongan Rugby World Cup team got from their supporters in Auckland yesterday.
Keeping Stock has the video and I defy you to watch it without being moved.
The team is one of the underdogs but however they perform on the field, it will be difficult to beat the Tongan fans who’ve shown us all how to get into the spirit of the occasion.