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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 World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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