Friday, May 3, 2013

Retro Friday - Lisandro Arbizu scores against New Zealand in 2001

Argentina and New Zealand faced each other twice in 2001. The most famous of the two saw Argentina come within an inch of victory in Buenos Aires. In front of a packed River Plate Stadium Los Pumas led the All Blacks into overtime but a failed touch finder from Felipe Contepomi was gathered ad the All Blacks countered with Ben Blair and Scott Robertson combining with the latter scoring the match winner and breaking Pumas hearts. Captaining Argentina was Lisandro Arbizu who had also played in the years other test between the nations in Christchurch in June. 

Arbizu´s try in the Christchurch test came with the home side leading but with the South Americans still within a chance of mounting a comeback. The All Blacks were on the attack well into Argentine territory with Andrew Mehtens looking to put centre Pita Alatina into a hole. Instead the play resulted in a turnover as Arbizu was on hand to crunch Alatani in a tackle which saw the ball spilt and Argentina launched a counter attack. After going through the hands of winger Gonzalo Camardón, José Orengo and Ignacio Fernández Lobbe the ball found its way to Arbizu who was in support and went over for a memorable try. 

When the teams met in Christchurch Arbizu was already into his second decade of international rugby. He had made his debut in 1990 and would play for Argentina for the final time against Italy in Argentina in 2005. His final time in a Pumas shirt in the home tests agaisnt Italy had come after nearly two years of non-selection. Arbizu had been in line to play his fourth rugby World Cup in 2003 only to break his leg in Argentina´s final warm-up match before the tournament against Canada in Buenos Aires. On that occassion he was joined in the starting lineup by three players likely to face the All Blacks in 2013 - Patricio Albacete, Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martín Hernández.

The well traveled Arbizu has left his Buenos Aires club, Belgrano Atheltic, in 1997 to play in France who won that years Heineken Cup title. Arbizu subsequently played for othert French clubs including Bordeaux-Begles, Pau and Bayonne. He also went on to play professional rugby in Italy and Spain for Parma, Capoterra and his current club, Valladoid. Earlier this week Arbizu told Argentine site Rugby Fun that he wll not continue playing after this season. As such he is now into his final month of rugby before hanging up his boots at the age of 41.

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