|Stade Français scrumhalf Julian Dupuy fires off a pass during the win over the Pumas. Image: Rugby365|
What a victory! To prepare for the forthcoming Four Nations championship, Argentina chose Stade Français as its sparring partner. And favourites Argentina have been trumped! In front of about 25,000 people in a magnificent atmosphere at the Vélèz Sarsfield Stadium, the Parisian club won 25-21. The result reflected a strong comeback by Stade Français in the last quarter of the game. “It’s an incredible victory,” Stade Français captain Sergio Parisse told ESPN. “We knew that these two matches against the Pumas were going to be difficult, but we have seen a great rugby match in this first game.”The Pumas led 16-12 at halftime and scored two tries to one. The game marked the return of Juan Martin Hernandez as the Pumas flyhalf, who kicked three penalties and converted a try by Horacio Agulla in the first half. Stade scrumhalf Julian Dupuy, who played in a French victory over the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009, replied with four penalties. Juan Imhoff added another try for the Pumas in the second half. But a converted Stade try by Laurent Sempere signalled a brilliant fightback 10 minutes from the end of the game. Two penalties by Jérémy Sinzelle sealed the win. Veteran Pumas pivot Felipe Contepomi played at flyhalf for Stade Francais.
The Pumas play Stade Français again next weekend before playing South Africa at Newlands in Capetown on August 18. Stade finished seventh in the French Top 14 last season. In June, France beat the Pumas 49-10 in the second test in Les Bleus' first victory in Argentina for more than a decade.
POSTSCRIPT: The Pumas followed up with a 31-17 (14-7) victory over Stade Français the following weekend and now face the Springboks in their first championship match at Newlands next Saturday.