Argentina have never beaten the All Blacks but they almost have on three occassions. Chris Rattue looks back on the clashes where the Pumas just fell short of making history.

All Blacks 21, Pumas 21, Buenos Aires, 1985

This game has special significance for one of the Pumas' current stars.

The scoreline could have read New Zealand 21, Hugo Porta 21. The most famous rugby player Argentina is likely to ever have landed four penalties and three drop goals, to negate the four tries scored by the Jock Hobbs-led All Blacks.

New Zealand had late opportunities to win, including a Kieran Crowley penalty which hit an upright. But Argentina had the final chance from a five metre scrum. They powered towards the All Black line but No. 8 Ernesto Ure knocked the ball on, and the final whistle followed from Aussie referee Kerry Fitzgerald.


So the careers of All Black luminaries Andy Haden, Murray Mexted, Dave Loveridge and Wayne Smith ended on a rather odd note, but it could have been so much worse but for that knock on.

The Pumas' hooker that day was Alejandro Cubelli, father of current halfback Tomas Cubelli. They had just seen the Pumas go close to beating the All Blacks at the River plate Stadium in 2001 when his father recounted what had happened 16 years earlier to the 12-year-old Tomas and his brother. reported that Tomas was trembling as he recalled his father's story.
"He told us about that draw and about the scrum towards the end that could have handed us the win. I started searching for videos and reading about the game. You can't give these guys an inch until the final whistle."

All Blacks 24, Pumas 20, Buenos Aires, 2001

One of the great All Black escapes, before a crowd of 70,000 at the famous River Plate Stadium, with a try on fulltime to match the miraculous one which saved a test against Ireland twelve years later.

With the Pumas leading 20 - 17, Felipe Contepomi missed a penalty. A couple of minutes into injury time, and stationed behind his goal line, Contepomi was put under pressure by halfback Mark Robinson and missed touch with a clearing kick which veered in field.

Andrew Mehrtens launched a counter attack and little fullback Ben Blair - in the most important act of his brief test career - cut between two defenders and threw a perfect long pass to No. 8 Scott Robertson who scored the winning try.

Robertson recalled: "I took the lineout ball and as I was running along one of the Argentine guys tripped over me and I just stood up and stayed there. I ended up standing outside Ben Blair. They chased across, we held our width, and Benny gave me a great ball and the rest is history. It was great."

All Blacks 25, Pumas 19, Buenos Aires, 2006

The incredibly versatile back Juan Martin Hernandez is the sole survivor for this week's test of the players who took the field in this epic if dour battle. The All Blacks had fielded a weakened, mix 'n match lineup after a test against Ireland in Auckland. They were captained by the late Jerry Collins, who impressed one and all with a post-match speech in Spanish. It might have been a losing speech, as the Pumas had a late attacking lineout chance.

The New Zealand rugby bible Men in Black opined: "This was a match Argentina deserved to win and New Zealand could have lost."

Collins said: "We made it tough on ourselves. I can't take anything away from Argentina, they're very hard to beat at home and we just did enough.

"It was a good workout, but that's probably not what people at home want to hear, or see on the scoreboard."

After the prized scalp had eluded the Pumas again, star halfback and captain Agustin Pichot said: "We made two mistakes and got penalised, and that's how the All Blacks play. They're the best team in the world and I love their rugby."