Flashback: Argentina shock the world

Date published: September 7 2016

In the latest edition of our series, we look back at this week in history and pick out a key moment from rugby’s archives.

For this edition we’re going back to 2007, and the opening games of that year's Rugby World Cup between Argentina and France.

September 7, 2007

France headed into the Rugby World Cup on home soil having clinched the Six Nations title earlier in the year – albeit narrowly on points difference ahead of Ireland – and with their confidence high of improving on their 2003 semi-final exit to eventual champions England.

And although Argentina certainly weren't being glanced over, after all they had lost by just a point to France the previous November, the same month in which they defeated England at Twickenham, the sense going into the first game of the sixth Rugby World Cup was that les Bleus would deliver.

Not so much. Instead the Rugby World Cup's grand opening, in front of expectant French dignatries and supporters alike, was a slowly unravelling Argentine nightmare.

France were riddled with nerves rather than being spurred on by the big occasion, and Argentina pounced, their fresh 10-12 combination of Juan Martín Hernández and Felipe Contepomi masterfully controlling proceedings from midfield behind that now trademark physical pack of forwards.

It was a masterclass from los Pumas in controlled aggression, rattling the French cages enough to force countless mistakes.

Contepomi and France fly-half David Skrela traded early penalties before the Argentina great edged his side away, and then played a major hand in the game's only try for Ignacio Corleto.

Damien Traille's break from claiming a high ball looked to have Argentina in trouble as he fed the ball on to Rémy Martin, but the flanker's pass was intercepted, Argentina countering before the ball ended up in Corleto's hands and he put on the afterburners to race away for a phenomenal score.

Contepomi couldn't convert but Argentina now led 14-3, and two penalties from Skrela to a further three-pointer from Contepomi meant Argentina held a 17-9 lead by the break.

The following second half was all about heart from Marcelo Loffreda's men, holding firm in defence and limiting Skrela to only one penalty in the 55th minute. 

Argentina missed both kicks for goal and chances late in the second half to bury the game but the efforts of their defence always meant it was going to be their day. 

Tony Spreadbury's final whistle sparked incredible celebrations from those Pumas players out on their feet, having won over thousands of news supporters thanks to one of the greatest shocks in Rugby World Cup history.

The names in that superb side looking back are quite something; Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma, Patricio Albacete, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and of course the great Agustín Pichot, not forgetting Hernández, Contepomi too and his brother Manuel.

That victory on September 7, combined with their triumph in the Bronze final rematch, have paved the way for the involvement of Argentina in the Rugby Championship and the Jaguares in Super Rugby today.

The scorers:

For France:
Pens: Skrela 4

For Argentina:
Pens: Contepomi 4

France: 15 Cédric Heymans, 14 Aurélien Rougerie, 13 Yannick Jauzion, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Christophe Dominici, 10 David Skrela, Pierre Mignoni, Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Rémy Martin, 6 Serge Betsen, 5 Jérôme Thion, 4 Fabien Pelous, 3 Pieter de Villiers, 2 Raphaël Ibanez (c), 1 Olivier Milloud

Argentina: 15 Ignacio Corleto, 14 Lucas Borges, 13 Manuel Contepomi, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Agustín Pichot (c), 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Lucas Ostiglia, 6 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Ignacio Fernández Lobbe, 3 Martín Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero

Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England)