Perhaps your greatest lessons in sport come against your biggest rivals.
In March and April 1982 the South American Jaguars played seven games on their tour of South Africa.
The Jaguars comprised of a 42-man squad including international players from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. One player’s name is still revered in South African rugby circles – Hugo Porta.
He was the Puma star of that Jaguars team that played twice against the Springboks in two unofficial international matches.
Most of the Jaguars’ games were against South African provincial sides. They won all those games. In fact the only game they lost on the tour of ’82 was against the South African national team in Pretoria. I was lucky enough to be there.
I vividly remember watching my childhood heroes Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, and Carel du Plessis wearing the green-and-gold on a very sunny high-veld afternoon. The Springboks won that game 50-18.
The second international was played in Bloemfontein. Again the Springboks were expected to win easily, but the Jaguars had other ideas. They beat our South African heroes by nine points to cause what might have been described as the rugby shock of the decade, or maybe even the century! The Springboks lost 12-21.
Hugo Porta, the Jaguars and Pumas fly-half, scored all 21 points for the Jaguars that day including a try, a conversion kick, four penalties, and a drop goal. The South American team that played that day were made up of the entire Argentinian national rugby union team and were described as effectively the Pumas.
Hugo Porta is still, and will always be, a highly respected figure in South African and world rugby. He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, and is considered one of the best fly-halves that ever played the game.
To those South African supporters who were shocked, and find it it unacceptable that the Pumas beat us in Mendoza recently, I can only say don’t be too surprised. They beat us in ’82 when we had “our best team ever”, and they probably will again.