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Dave Rennie’s unique Argentina history as Wallabies embrace atmosphere

Sat, 06/08/2022, 1:17 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie and captain Michael Hooper spoke after the decider at the SCG.

The Wallabies are well aware of what to expect from a 'passionate' Argentina crowd, no one more than coach Dave Rennie.

His side will make the trip from Buenos Aires to Mendoza for the opening round of the Rugby Championship on August 7.

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It will be the first time since 2018 they will play in Argentina, with the Wallabies pulling off a remarkable 45-34 victory after trailing 31-7 at the break.

Rennie understands how influential Argentianan crowds can be, tracing back to his time with the Chiefs as they played in the Jaguares' first home game in Super Rugby history in 2016

The Jaguares were in their inaugural season and looked set to mark the occasion at José Amalfitani Stadium with a shock win after two tries to Martín Landajo and Matías Moroni gave them a late lead.

In the end, a 78th-minute try to Brad Weber allowed the Chiefs to escape with the 30-26 victory, something Rennie reflected on ahead of their latest battle with Argentina.

“It was a brilliant occasion,” Rennie recalled.

“It was their first one at home and a great game to be involved in. We were in a pretty strong position with about five to go and they scored two tries to put their noses in front and we scored on full time to win it.

“It was a hell of a game, crowd on their feet singing and dancing throughout, in those soccer stadiums the crowds are so close.

“I think you just have to embrace it. Our boys will be excited to play in front of a vocal crowd on the weekend.”

Adding to the atmosphere is the 'Cheika factor', with the former Wallabies boss set to come up against his old side for the first time as a head coach.

On that night in Salta four years ago, Cheika delivered an all-time spray at half-time, inspiring the Wallabies to the comeback victory

He showed his ability to galvanise a squad after Los Pumas' disappointing 2021 campaign with a 2-1 home series win over Scotland leaving the Wallabies wary of underestimating the hosts.

“I think they were unreal against Scotland and they won that series,” Holloway notes. “Playing Argentina over in Argentina, as we come into the hotel the support they have is immense.

“They’ll grow an extra leg and we really need to front up and be on our toes.

“…I know Cheik, he'll be fired up, he'll probably be throwing golf clubs against walls like he did with us at the Waratahs.

"He'll have them fired up and ready to go and we need to be as well.

“Argentina is a very passionate side and their fans get behind the team and I think that’s where they draw a lot of their energy from,” fellow backrower Pete Samu added.

“We probably haven’t experienced that in a while so it’ll be pretty exciting to be out there this weekend and take the crowd in as energy-wise.”

For returning hooker Lachlan Lonergan, the country holds special significance as the site himself and the next generation of Wallabies announced themselves to the world.

Lonergan along with the likes of Noah Lolesio, Fraser McReight and Nick Frost were key figures in the Junior Wallabies' march to the U20 World Championship Final in Rosario, defeating hosts Argentina in the semi-final before falling to France by a point.

“It was awesome playing footy here. As Jed said, the support they have over here is incredible,” Lonergan believes.

“I still remember that semi-final against Argentina, it was one of the most fun games I’ve ever played, the atmosphere was awesome so I’m just assuming it’s going to that x100.”

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