• Vamos Los Pumas!

    As the Springboks did last year, Argentina illustrated the value in harnessing the power of a patriotic cause in Saturday’s stunning win over the All Blacks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    In a year that has been so severely impacted by the pandemic, magical moments have been few and far between as the rugby landscape has undergone fundamental change.

    But in that context, it was a joy to watch Argentina create a bit of history on Saturday as they gallantly secured a first-ever victory over the All Blacks in the 30th meeting between the two sides.

    It was a performance of passion and precision, but also deep-rooted emotion, as evidenced by the tears that flowed from players, supporters and coaches after the game.

    After more than 400 days without Test action, and with their preparations heavily disrupted due to the pandemic and positive tests in their camp, Argentina had been written off by many – as evidenced below.

    Yet, Argentina are made of tougher stuff, and this fact was best demonstrated by heroic captain Pablo Matera during the early exchanges.

    A petulant scrap had broken out between the players, with Matera stepping in after seeing once of his players on the receiving end of a slap to the face.

    After hearing the referee out, Matera pointed to below the badge on his jersey, and emphatically stated: ‘It’s not respect, I’m playing for my country, that’s no respect!’

    It was a powerful moment that offered the first insight that Argentina were playing for a lot more than just a rugby result.

    This was about providing hope for their countrymen back home, with the South American country having been one of the most heavily affected by the pandemic.

    It’s forced the country into lockdown, and also made Argentina’s preparations for the Tri-Nations extremely challenging, but they saw an opportunity to honour the Los Pumas jersey.

    WATCH: How Pumas trained in quarantine

    As Matera explained after Saturday’s match, the performance was about providing hope for people back home, to show them what can be achieved with ‘hard work’, and to inspire young players who currently can’t play due to lockdown restrictions.

    It’s the sort of motivating factor that was recently showcased in the Springboks’ World Cup documentary Chasing the Sun, where Rassie Erasmus spent a large part of the final week reminding the players of their responsibility to bring hope to people going through struggles back in South Africa.

    Ultimately, the Springboks possessed an incentive that was intangible to others, but immensely meaningful to them. What followed was a resounding victory over England, followed by a remarkable trophy tour that best illustrated just how many people had been inspired by the Bok triumph.

    For Argentina, it was clear on Saturday that they were fuelled and fired up by a greater cause, and the end result was an inspiring, emotional victory that reminded us of the power of sport.

    WATCH: Emotional Argentina coach: It was unreal

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    Craig Lewis