Hola mis amigos,
Welcome to this 53rd clash between the Los Pumas of Argentina (FISMs) and the Chilean Los Condores (Chilean Angry Birds – CABs) scheduled for 1500hrs Frog local time (2300hrs Sydney local) at Stadium Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes.
Our man with the pea will be referee Paul Williams, ably assisted by Andy Brace and Chris Busby with Ben Whitehouse in the bunker box. And I suspect the officiating team may have their work cut out for them as while this may seem a bit of a non-event on the surface as the World no9 FISMs meet World no22 CABs, once the Latino blood starts to pump and the singing starts to rise, we may well have the 2nd battle of Nantes to contend with (with the first being in 1986 when France played the All Blacks and the legendary Buck Shelford was knocked out and had a well known incident with a ball in a bag).
Rugby was introduced in Chile in the late 19th century, with the first recorded rugby game taking place in 1894 between British immigrants in the Santiago, Iquique and Valparaíso areas. In 1935, the Chilean Rugby Federation was founded and they played their first official test match in September 1936 against Argentina (lost 20-0). Their first win didn’t come until they belted Uruguay 21-3 in 1948, but since starting they have played 208 tests for 75 wins (36.1%).
Chile qualified for RWC2023 for the first time in their history by knocking out the American Eagles in an enthralling two match series wherein, after losing Match 1 by 22-21 and following a 58th minute penalty to USA Captain AJ McGinty, the CABs looked down and done. However, a try and an unforgettable Santiago Videla late penalty led to a 31-29 victory in Match 2 and so a 52-51 aggregate win to Los Condores. Thus their tickets to France were booked.
Their tourney so far has been ugly reading with a 42-12 belting by Japan, a similar 43-10 lesson from Samoa and a 71-0 spanking by the hapless English leaving them bruised and battered about. But given they line up now against perennial Big Brother, I get the feeling everything else has been nowt but a prelude to this match. This is their final.
Comparatively, Argentina played its first international rugby match in 1910 against a touring British Isles team and they have competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament of 1987 with their best result being 3rd placed in 2007. They are by far the strongest team within the Americas, being undefeated against all but Canada, and are a regular in the Southern Rugby Championship, playing the All Blacks, South Africa and Australia every year.
The FISMs came to RWC2023 as a potential dark horse, but following a bizarre 27-10 loss to England early and a hardly convincing 19-10 win over Samoa last week, they are clearly not where they want to be. Given their record over Los Condores is 51 wins from 52 starts, they will be looking to post a cricket score to right their ship and head to their last game against Japan, and thus the quarter finals with confidence restored.
Argentina: Michael Cheika has made 11 changes to his starting XV from the team that defeated Samoa 19-10 in their last match, with Marcos Kremer, Guido Petti, Eduardo Bello and Juan Martin González the only four players retaining their places in the run-on team. For me, it’s great to see Creevy get a run on start as Montoya gets a well-earned night off and here’s to Nicko Sanchez for racking up his 100th appearance.
1 Joel Sclavi, 2 Agustín Creevy, 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Guido Petti, 5 Pedro Rubiolo, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Facundo Isa, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (c),13 Lucio Cinti, 14 Rodrigo Isgro, 15 Martín Bogado
16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Joaquín Oviedo, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Santiago Carreras, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia
For Chile, head coach Pablo Lemoine has made eight changes to his starting 15, including the return of Javier Carrasco in the front row, and has two potential debutants on the bench in Nicolas Herreros and Augusto Sarmiento.
1 Javier Carrasco, 2 Augusto Bohme, 3 Matias Dittus, 4 Santiago Pedrero, 5 Javier Eissmann, 6 Martín Sigren (c), 7 Clemente Saavedra, 8 Raimundo Martínez, 9 Marcelo Torrealba, 10 Rodrigo Fernandez, 11 José Ignacio Larenas, 12 Matias Garafulic, 13 Domingo Saavedra, 14 Santiago Videla, 15 Inaki Ayarza
16 Tomas Dussaillant, 17 Salvador Lues, 18 Esteban Inostroza, 19 Augusto Sarmiento, 20 Alfonso Escobar, 21 Ignacio Silva, 22 Nicolas Herrero, 23 Francisco Urroz
Nutta’s fearless prediction (aka “the Kiss of Death”): I so want to tip Los Condores. But it’s a pipe-dream. The bookies have the FISMs as almost unbackable, so a protest bet on the Angry Birds makes a degree of mathematical sense. But the ruthless physicality of the FISM pack will simply be too much for the Angry Birds. However the score isn’t really relevant to me in this one. The Angry Birds are playing on pride and they are going to fairly snot it to the FISMs with everything they have for as long as they have it. Los Condores are going down, but they are going down swinging.
Argies by 50-10, but Angry Birds to win pride.
H1: Well the sun was shining, the ground announcer was going dead set burko, plenty of folk were singing and more than a few of players were crying; it’s clearly South American rugby! It was the Angry Birds to kick off and so we got it on.
The match was barely a minute old before the Argies got too enthusiastic in a kick chase and FISM no4 Petti gave up a silly penalty for Angry Bird 14 Videla to take a long-range penalty shot from around halfway which barely fell short. But it set up Los Condores play around halfway from the Argy clearing kick. But Los Condores couldn’t construct much before FISM no2 Creevy earned a jackal penalty to push a FISM lineout opportunity deep into Angry Birds territory. Good breakdown work by the Birds saw a breakdown steal and the pressure was kicked away. Folks these guys were fairly ripping into this but the FISMs clearly had the best of possession and field position.
Some nice lineout and maul work earned Los Pumas a lineout deep in Angry Birds quarter in the 6th minute, but deeply committed Bird defence saw them strip the ball and clear down field again. The intensity in the breakdown work was fierce. However, the possession glut to the FISMs eventually told and their no10 Nicholas Sanchez slid through some gassed defence to open the scoring with a great solo pie in the 9th minute, before then saucing his own pie from wide right. 7-0.
By the 12th minute the Argies professionalism was already telling and a mid-field scrum penalty resulted in a Sanchez penalty shot to push the score out to 10-0 FISM. And from the kickoff the Pumas rolled downfield again, assisted by multiple penalty advantages, and earned another lineout on the Condores 5m line. Simple catch and maul work unlocked a try at 16min to no6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, sauced by Sanchez. and thus it was 17-0 at 17min and while Los Condores were trying, the gates were starting to open for Los Pumas.
Things weren’t going all Argy way though. But poor Angry Birds execution and discipline saw them unable to exit their half and after continued pressure, yet another Argy lineout and maul saw young-fella Creevy grab a pie at 23min, promptly sauced by Sanchez and it was then 24-0 FISM at 24min. However calamity struck the FISM at 25min as Argy 14 Isgro ate a cheese for a swinging arm in a tackle. But it seemed the Argies had some sort of border post on halfway as Los Condores just could not get out of their half.
From there, the weight of possession kept play cemented in the Angry Birds half until oranges. However, execution was increasingly letting Los Pumas down with last passes and decision making going astray and so stunting their scoring. That said, Los Condores couldn’t secure their own lineout and their scrum was under enormous pressure. So while the Angry Birds were brave and the Argy errors were giving them opportunity, there was little they could do with no ball.
With the crowd singing along with Queen, Argentina started the 2nd stanza and it largely picked up where the first left off with the Argies getting ball back on halfway and starting to pound runners into the Chilean half. But, out of the blue, a lovely counter-break by Chilean 15 Ayarza fed no 12 Garafulic and Los Condores pushed play deep into the Argy half. Some nice quick ruck play saw Los Condores no2 Bohme crash to the 5metre line, but heartbreakingly they lost the ball in contact and the moment was lost. That said, ferocious Los Condores tackling was rattling the grandstands and the Pumas weren’t executing well. However again, eventually the weight of possession had to tell and Los Pumas no15 Bogado weaved through to score on debut, sauced by Sanchez again, and it was 31-0 Pumas at 46min.
Argy discipline started to slip noticeably at that point, and a succession of penalties allowed Los Condores to play consistently in the FISM half for a spell. This was typified by some sideline handbags at 50min wherein Creevy was clearly cautioned by ref Williams for his enthusiasm. The resulting penalty created a Los Condores lineout on the Argy 5m at 51min and sneaky front-of-lineout play saw no2 Bohme crash over for a fantastic pie out wide. But an unnecessary intervention by a bored TMO saw the try cancelled for a forward pass that simply didn’t happen. Ce sera sera.
Replacements for both teams started to flow at about 55min and the fresh legs saw Los Pumas lineout, maul and midfield running push out of their half and to Los Condores 22 metre. Normal programming resumed from there and after more midfield crash running, the FISMs earned a penalty and set an attacking scrum under the Birds’ posts at 58min. A try seemed inevitable. But silly play from the Argy front row saw the Pumas penalised for a loosehead walkaround and the pressure was released. The Angry Birds exploited the Argy carelessness and pushed deep into FISM territory through no7 Saavedra who was having a monster game. Then it was their turn for loose passes and poor carries to cut short the Angry Birds raids. The remorseless defensive efforts were wearing Los Condores out by the 60th minute.
Following an unluckily overcooked Chilean 50/22 attempt, a good Argy lineout and breakdown work saw FISM no14 Rodrigo Isgro break away for a 20metre dash and crash over for a pie at 63min, sauced again by Sanchez, and it was 38-0 at 64min. And shortly thereafter, another neat lineout and maul set up some space for quick hands down the blind and Gonzalez grabbed his 2nd pie at 67min, duly sauced again by Sanchez at 68min, to make the score 45-0.
Los Condores weren’t giving up though. They pushed hard into FISM territory and earned penalty opportunities from poor FISM discipline at around 70min. And the crowd was fairly going berserk when a great, simple front lineout ball was set into a solid maul. The backs could smell the pie in the air and they piled in as the maul held shape and marched over with no16 Tomas Dussaillant eventually being unearthed with the pie at 72min, The sauce went wide but no one cared with Los Condores sending the crowd ballistic. 45-5 at 74min.
There was still 6min to go and a midfield penalty inside the Birds quarter saw the FISMs set another attacking lineout at 76min. A clean lineout and subsequent pounding midfield runners resulted in debutant no16 Ignacio Ruiz grabbing a pie at 77min and new kicker no 22 Carreras poked over the sauce and the score was 52-5 at 78min.
A kickoff, a quick Argy break, some brave Los Condores defence, but the last laugh went to Carreras who went over at 79min for his pie, which he self-sauced, and thus the match ended at 59-5.
Congratulations to Argentina. They were dominant from the opening play and they earned their healthy win. Nonetheless, I have to say I was pumped for Los Condores. Yes they got belted on the scoreboard. But they fought all the way, and they did themselves and their country proud.
The Game Changer
The kick-off. From there it was all FISM. Los Condores were brave, but Los Pumas were just a cut above.
The Man of the Match/Standout Player
Best for Los Condores was no15 Inaki Ayarza who was creative and found gaps with his running while no7 Saavedra and no2 Bohme were gutsy and tireless. But the day belonged to Argentina’s Nicholas Sanchez earning his 100th cap along with a glut of points and some nice distribution touches.
The Details: Oranges: 24-0 FISM. Full-Time: 59-5 FISM.
Tries: Dussaillant (72min)
Conversions: Videla (miss 73min)
Penalties: Videla (miss 1min)
Tries: Sanchez (9min), Gonzalez (16min 67min), Creevy (23min) Bogado (45min) Isgro (63min) Ruiz (77min) Carreras (80min)
Conversions: Sanchez (9min 17min 24min 46min 64min 68min) Carreras (77min and 80min)
Penalties: Sanchez (12min) Cards: 25min (Isgro Yellow)