And the world continues to be turned upside down in 2020. The original James Bond is dead and so is the aura of the All Blacks in Argentina after the Pumas pounded the All Blacks 25-15 in Sydney.
The Pumas have so often come so close to knocking over the All Blacks. The closest was a 21-all draw in Buenos Aires in 1985, when Hugo Porta scored all the points.
Well, in Sydney on this famous 14th November Saturday, another No 10 wrote his name into Pumas rugby history. Nicolas Sanchez kicked six penalties from seven attempts, scored a try, kicked a conversion and also nearly nailed a drop goal.
Sanchez produced a flyhalf masterclass and he did it off the back of an imposing and brutal display from his forwards, who were magnificently led by captain and loose-forward Pablo Matera.
This was and is Argentina’s day. The focus must be on their performance because they simply crushed the All Blacks at the breakdown and smashed them into submission in the collisions.
The Pumas, who had not played a Test in 13 months, and had been in Australia for the past six weeks preparing to play in the revamped Rugby Championship, exposed the vulnerability of Ian Foster’s All Blacks, which is that they don’t have a pack, they don’t have discipline and they don’t have much of a head coach.
The All Blacks, in Foster’s first year, are now two from five.
For the past two months I have been writing that this is the most ordinary of All Blacks packs and despite some wonderful individuals in the match-day 23, they are very much part of a chasing pack when it comes to their collective parts.
Australia, in Wellington and Brisbane, showed that when you front the All Blacks for 80 minutes, they don’t have a plan B. The Pumas on Saturday were even more ruthless in how they took it to the All Blacks, got them by the throat, throttled them and never let go.
The 10 point differential was kind to the All Blacks because Argentina were easily a 20-point better team on the day.
The Pumas, in their one draw and 28 defeats against the All Blacks, had often threatened to claim that historic first win. It also seemed more a case of when than if, but few (outside of the players and coaches) would have believed that historic day would come after not having played a Test for 13 months.
Discipline has always deserted the Pumas in the big moments against the All Blacks, but not in Sydney. The victors played with composure while the All Blacks crumbled.
The New Zealand Rugby Union made the wrong choice when appointing Foster, who had been Steve Hansen’s assistant for eight years. Foster’s Super Rugby coaching record was awful. His Chiefs team won 50 percent of their matches in a decade.
Watching the All Blacks in the past fortnight was a mirror image of Foster’s clueless Chiefs.
The Pumas will celebrate tonight and it may be a celebration that lasts for the rest of the year.
Their challenge will be to back up Saturday’s performance against Australia next Saturday.
For now, their only challenge is to make it through the night of celebrations in one piece.
What a glorious day for international rugby, but what a fabulous moment in the history of Argentinean rugby.
Argentina – Tries: Nicolas Sanchez. Conversion: Sanchez. Penalties: Sanchez (6).
All Blacks – Tries: Sam Cane, Caleb Clarke. Conversion: Richie Mo’unga. Penalty: Mo’unga.
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo.
Subs: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Lucio Cinti, 23 Santiago Cordero.
All Blacks: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Damian McKenzie.