Some of the players haven’t seen their families since early August.
They hadn’t played a Test match since last year’s World Cup group stage, a full 13 months ago.
The entire team had been individually isolated from each other for well over 4 months during the lockdown in Argentina, and pretty much trained using conference calls and their fathers.
Eventually, they were able to train in separate camps in Buenos Aries and Montevideo in Uruguay from September, and weren’t allowed to leave their hotels outside of training under COVID protocols.
Then, they travelled to Australia at the start of October and performed another 2 weeks of quarantine, and originally they could only train in the team room at the hotel in Manly, because obviously they couldn’t make contact with anyone outside of Los Pumas setup, before they moved out and set up at Leichhardt Oval.
Michael Cheika popped up out of nowhere to help out his old mate ‘Super’ Mario Ledesma, who had turned around the Wallabies scrum in 2015 and played a key role in that World Cup Final run.
The Springboks then withdrew from the Rugby Championship, which fortunately gave Los Pumas the chance to add the European-based players, who wouldn’t have been available until November 3 after completing quarantine and probably wouldn’t have played their original November 7 Rugby Championship opener.
Perhaps the biggest challenge wasn’t the isolation, but this:
Los Pumas had never defeated the All Blacks in 29 previous meetings, having only previously managed a draw, and the Kiwis obviously had the advantage of having played 4 Bledisloe Cup matches against the Wallabies.
But, as we all know, with that classic Los Pumas physicality and pressure, led superbly by Pablo Matera, the boot of Nicolas Sanchez with all 25 points, the months of preparation from Super Mario and his crew to produce such a well-drilled team….
LOS PUMAS MADE HISTORY.
What a moment of beauty.
And here’s big Super Mario shedding a few tears to make it all the more beautiful.
Oddly enough, when Ireland finally defeated the All Blacks after 111 years of trying in 2016, they did it on another continent (North America), just like Argentina did yesterday.
Someone should send a message to Wales.