Saturday, October 8, 2011

Argentina vs New Zealand, 2006


This Sunday's Quarter Final showdown between Los Pumas and the All Blacks is a test match with a lot of future implications running on it. After a struggle of more than a decade Argentina are to play in the Tri Nations starting in 2012. Calls for Argentina's involvement can be traced back to Rugby World Cup 1999 when Argentina made the Quarter Finals for the first time after defeating the likes of Japan, Samoa and Ireland en route to losing to eventual finalists, France. The Europeans subsequent fixture saw the All Blacks being eliminated. Following the tournament, Argentina went through a period of establishing itself as a top level side with victories against all six members of the Six Nations taking place between then and Rugby World Cup 2007 when Argentina are talked of as shocking the world. The reality is that Argentina were a powerhouse side before the 2007 campaign and the All Blacks found this outside themselves in 2001 as they escaped from jail in defeating Argentina with a try in injury time to snatch a 24-20 victory.

The next time New Zealand visited Buenos Aires was five years latter and again the South Americans proved to be tough opponents for the All Blacks. New Zealand won the match 25-19 but were given a scare once again as Los Pumas came cloise to scoring a try late in the piece whcih would have given Argentina victory. Tragically, the two sides have not met since. Sunday's Quarter FInal is going to be the first match between the sides in more than five years. Of the players from the 2006 encounter, a number from both teams are competing for their country now in New Zealand 2011. Eight of the All Blacks side have been playing thus far for the host nation while Argentina has never members of its initial squad who played in the 2006 test compeitning in New Zealand 2011. Of the 2011 squads the New Zealand survivors are Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Andrew Hore, Ma'a Nonu, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock. Argentina's survivors are Felipe Contepomi, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Mario Ledesma, Juan Leguizamon, Rodrigo Roncero, Martin Scelzo and Gonzalo Tiesi. Lucas Borges has since replaced Tiesi who was forced out of Rugby World Cup 2007 after a late hit from English secondrower, Courtney Lawes resulted in a knee injury. Fernandez Lobbe and Roncero have both   had their Rugby World Cup campaigns cut short as has New Zealand's Dan Carter.

New Zealanders feel that their country's chances of winning the tournament have taken a massive hit with Carter's injury but it cannot be an excuse. Argentina, for instance, have lost its first choice loosehead prop, number eight and outside centre during the tournament and have been playing without Juan Martin Hernandez who was widely considered as being the best flyhalf from Rugby World Cup 2007. The pair of Carter and Hernandez have faced each other on two previous occassions but only once as a head-to-head contest. The first was the 2006 Argentina vs New Zealand match in which Hernandez was fullback and Carter flyhalf. The second was in January 2009 with both playing flyhalf with Hernandez for Stade Francais and Carter for Perpignanin a Top 14 clash at the Stade de France.  No player came out on top as being the better that evening. When the Four Nations starts in 2012 it is likely that it will be Carter vs Hernandez once again.

Argentina

15 Juan Martin Hernandez (Stade Francais, France)
14 Jose Nunez Piossek (Bayonne, France)
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (London Irish, England)
12 Felipe Contepomi (Leinster, Ireland)
11 Federico Aramburu (Biarritz, France)
10 Federico Todeschini (Beziers, France)
9 Agustin Pichot captain (Stade Francais, France)
8 Gonzalo Longo (Clermont, France)
7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Sale Sharks, England)
6 Martin Durant (Montpellier, France)
5 Rimas Alvarez Kairelis (Perpignan, France)
4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (Sale Sharks, England)
3 Omar Hasan (Toulouse, France)
2 Mario Ledesma (Clermont, France)
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais, France)

Reserves: 16 Pablo Gambarini, 17 Martin Scelzo, 18 Martin Schusterman, 19 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 20 Nicolas Fernandez Miranda, 21 Lucas Borges, 22 Federico Serra Miras

New Zealand

15 Leon MacDonald (Crusaders)
14 Rico Gear (Crusaders)
13 Isaia Toeava (Blues)
12 Sam Tuitupou (Blues)
11 Scott Hamilton (Crusaders)
10 Dan Carter (Crusaders)
9 Piri Weepu (Hurricanes)
8 Mose Tuiali'i (Crusaders)
7 Chris Masoe (Hurricanes)
6 Jerry Collins Captain (Hurricanes)
5 Ali Williams (Blues)
4 Jason Eaton (Hurricanes)
3 Greg Somerville (Crusaders)
2 Anton Oliver (Highlanders)
1 Tony Woodcock (Blues)

Reserves: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Troy Flavell, 19 Craig Newby, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Ma'a Nonu


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