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Pumas need to adopt Che's doctrine of attack

Date

Spiro Zavos

Remembering the Che Guevara doctrine ... the Pumas in action.

Remembering the Che Guevara doctrine ... the Pumas in action. Photo: Getty Images

DURING a debate in Melbourne recently between rugby and AFL tragics over the merits of their codes, Adam Freier, the former Wallabies hooker, argued convincingly that the international range of rugby union created a fascinating community who had played the game. He instanced James Bond (fictionally) and Che Guevara (literally) as rugby players. He could have mentioned Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as presidents who played rugby.

Edmund Barton, Ben Chifley (a dashing loose forward like Richard Burton), Sir Keith Holyoake, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (who lost the sight in an eye through a rugby injury) were prime ministers who learnt to take the hits of life on the rugby field. Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, JJR Tolkien, Stephen Fry, Jacques Tati and Bryce Courtenay (a fervent Wallabies supporter) were players in their day.

With the Pumas playing their first Rugby Championship Test in Australia tonight at the Gold Coast, the case of Guevara reveals the Argentinian passion for the game. He played rugby, as an (inappropriate) centre not as a left winger, when he was studying medicine in Buenos Aires in the 1950s. He was so entranced with the game, he started his own rugby magazine, Tackle. Given the sterling defensive play of the Pumas against the All Blacks last Saturday night, Guevara's tackle imperative is now an essential part of the Argentinian style.

The Pumas have added a new dimension to the tournament, the ''Che Factor''. The Pumas and their passionate supporters are revelling on the big rugby stage the tournament provides. At Wellington, a small group of Pumas supporters, resplendent in their blue-and-white colours, blowing whistles and waving flags, provided enough noise with their singing, chanting and roaring to make their presence felt in a crowd of 35,000.

The enthusiasm of the supporters encouraged the Pumas to play with bravery, skill and a sort of revolutionary fervour that was in the Guevara traditions. The Pumas missed only 17 tackles out of 107 attempted. Time after time the All Blacks surged towards the Pumas' try line only to be knocked over and back. Luke Romano, the big All Blacks second-rower, led a charge from a five-metre tap penalty. He was smashed back another 5m as if he'd run into an on-rushing train.

At times, too, the Pumas showed glimpses of some slick running and passing in the backs. But there was not enough of this. The All Blacks made 133 carries of the ball for 470m gained: to the 33 carries and 177m by the Pumas. Sir Graham Henry, now a consultant-coach of the Pumas, has identified scoring tries as the main work-on for the Pumas. This is right. The Pumas, like the Springboks, are still playing their 2007 World Cup kicking game. Despite the fact that they had only 31 per cent of possession, the Pumas kicked 31 times to the All Blacks 27 times.

So the Wallabies can expect hard tackling and a lot of kicking tonight. The catching skills of the back three will be tested as Juan Martin Fernandez sends up his attack of bombs. If the Pumas get close to the try line, the Wallabies can expect a torrid sequence of one-up hard-shouldered runs from the big forwards. Even the tight All Blacks' defence could not hold on one occasion against this brutal onslaught.

The Pumas lineout (63 per cent success rate against the All Blacks) and scrum (88 per cent success) can be slightly wobbly. The improved Wallabies scrum under Andrew Blades's coaching and lineout (provided there are no more brain snaps from Nathan Sharpe) could have some dominance in the set-pieces.

The only complaint about the Pumas so far in the Rugby Championship is their cynicism in slowing down play. The Pumas, for their part, need to remember the Che Guevara doctrine that contests are won by attacking the opposition and not with go-slows.

spiro@theroar.com.au

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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