The New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks (my home team!), are in town, arriving on Saturday for the game against Los Pumas on the 29th September (Argentine time). I’m not really even much of a fan, but for every Kiwi girl, especially those far away from home, the All Blacks will cause the heart to skip a beat. Flirting with the idea, I had a look at how many mangos I might need for a ticket and jeepers, they sold out in May this year meaning that the resale value on Mercado Libre is up to 1000 times the original value of between 150 and 425 pesos.
During the Rugby World Cup last year I was surprised by the number of locals who know and love our team – from the guys in the local kiosks who sell me chocolates and phone credit, to the sweet elderly couples who frequent the tango classes.
When people discover (short into conversation thanks to my terrible Spanish accent) that I am a Kiwi, the typical reaction is a smile and “the country of the All Blacks, the best in the world.” And a warm fuzzy patriotism rushes through my veins.
The All Blacks have for a long time been a unifier for New Zealanders. As popularity for rugby grows in Argentina, and summer asados or bbqs draw near, it seems our two countries have more and more in common. There is even a small rugby museum in San Isidro.
The budding hype is not suprising given that Argentina was recently invited to join the Tri Nations (now more appropriately four nations) alongside New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
I got myself along to a game in June 2011 at the stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires to see the Los Pumas come out victorious against the French team, Los Barbarians. The game was complete with a streaker – showing that between continents people don’t change that much. Definitely get yourself along to a game if you are in Buenos Aires for a while. For tickets you can try the following clubs, URBA and Belgrano Athletic Club.
The Argentine side is stepping up and while football still clearly steals the show in Argentina (boys still generally have nice ears here and you only have to live in a small central apartment and hear the mid-game shrieks from across the concrete walls), Los Pumas are increasingly seen as icons in Argentina, patriotic symbols of strength, nicely illustrated by the recent Adidas commercial “Soy un Puma.” “What do you think the Pumas think when they can’t continue more? “Impossible is nothing.”
By Sarah Wattie. Sarah works for The Argentine Experience.