Monday, May 28, 2012

Wales vs Argentina - Rugby World Cup 1999

Gonzalo Quesada
When Argentina were selected as the team to face hosts Wales to open Rugby World Cup 1999 it was a decision made thinking that Wales would be able to get a good, clean win. Los Pumas, however, were out to win and came very close in going down 23-18. Argentina had defeated Australia two years earlier but the result seemed to have not been noticed by anybody as the South American side continued to be considered a Tier Two rugby nation. Wales, had also claimed a major scalp, defeating South Africa in 1999 - the first time the Welsh had ever knocked over the Springboks. That victory, however, had received plenty of press and saw Wales enter the World Cup as the clear favorites to win Pool D which featured Wales, Argentina, Japan and Samoa. 

Argentina had always been a there-abouts team. Los Pumas had won big games but the matches were considered as being isolated and as such the team did not have a great reputation. In Rugby World Cup´s Los Pumas had never got it together and before 1999 had never made it to the Quarter Finals and had lost matches it should have won including games vs Fiji in 1987, England in 1995 and Italy also in 1995. For 1999, however, this would all change with a spirited campaign changing the shape of World Cup´s forever.  

Argentina failed to score a try in the match but the boot of Gonzalo Quesada was deadly as he landed six goals to score 18 points. He paired up with a young Agustín Pichot to form a 9-10 combination that took it to Wales and succeeded in silencing the Millenium Stadium. Wales scored to tries with backrower Colin Charvis and centre Mark Taylor going over. Charvis´ try, however was contested by Los Pumas who believed he had been tackled into touch in an earlier phase before offloading. Replaying appeared to suggesst the try was indeed not scored. However, in 1999 the use of video replay´s was still not a part of test rugby. Had the try not been awarded then Wales would have scored seven fewer points giving Argentina victory.  Despite losing, a major impression had been made and Argentina would make up for it a few weeks latter in eliminating Ireland from the World Cup after defeating both Samoa and Japan along the way. 

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