Sunday, July 22, 2012

Has Argentina ever defeated South Africa?

Hugo Porta led the South American Jaguars
Before debuting in The Rugby Championship there were thirteen test matches contested between Argentina and South Africa with the Springboks winning all of them. However, while test rugby against South Africa was off limits in the 1980´s it was common for teams to bend the rules and face South Africa in matches that were international games featuring teams playing under alternative names or simply not as official test sides. 



The British and Irish Lions, for instance played in South Africa in 1974 and 1980 and the New Zealand Cavaliers toured in 1986. Argentina was not an exception with Hugo Porta making history as he scored a try and kicked a South American team to victory over the Springboks in the apartheid country in 1982. The team was officially the South American Jaguars, in a move comparable to the Lions. This enabled matches in 1980, 1982 and 1984 to be played as no country was actually being represented. The make up of the team, however, was not a composite team despite the name suggesting otherwise. The teams 21-12 win over South Africa in Bloemfontein on April 03 1982 was in fact a South Africa vs Argentina match with all the players for the South American Jaguars being Argentineans. For this reason the win should be considered as Argentina´ first win against South Africa.

In an attempt to put the matter to bed once and for all I recently contacted rugby historian John Griffiths who  confirmed that the answer is yes, the players were all from Argentina. My question was as follows: There are arguments over the South American Jaguars win over South Africa during apartheid. Were the Jaguars really just Argentina playing under a different name due to the nature of the political regime in power in South Africa at the time?  

John Griffiths responded: The 1982 Jaguars played 14 matches on a tour of South Africa including two Tests. The Springboks awarded full cap status to the Tests. By calling themselves the Jaguars and representing South America, the side managed to circumvent national Governments' ban on international teams' sporting relations with South Africa.

Two matches were scheduled simultaneously for each of the seven itinerary dates, even the Test days. As a result the tour party comprised 42 players (so that two squads of 21 could be deployed on each match day). The tour party comprised 30 Argentineans, five Chileans, five Uruguayans and two Paraguayans.

There was some transfer between the match-day squads but generally the "A" team comprised Argentineans. The sides that represented the Jaguars in the two Tests were all-Argentine with Hugo Porta as captain.

The Springboks won the first Test 50-18 in Pretoria but an unchanged 'Bok side crashed to a surprising 21-12 defeat in Bloemfontein the week later. Porta notched all his side's points, going through the card of scoring actions with a try, conversion, four penalty goals and a dropped goal.

With Thanks: scrum


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