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Hugo Porta



No rugby union hall of fame can be complete without the great Argentine flyhalf being mentioned.

When one talks about the great flyhalves of Porta`s era(1971-1987), most people would point to the 2 obvious kicking geniuses of that era, Naas Botha and Grant Fox. True, these 2 gentlemen set the benchmark for tactical kicking and kicking out of hand, a standard that even the modern-day professionals struggle to emulate.

But Porta was at least their equal in the kicking department. A career total of 529 points, including 88 penalties, 78 conversions and a then-world record of 25 drop goals certainly attests to that. And he certainly had BMT. In 1979, he famously led the Pumas to a 24-13 victory over the Wallabies in Buenos Aires. In 1982, with an unofficial South American Jaguars touring squad, he kicked all 21 points in a famous victory over the Springboks in Bloemfontein, SA. And of course, he kicked 4 penalties and 3 droppies in the famous 21-all draw in an official test vs. the All Blacks in 1985.

But Hugo Porta was about much more than just brilliant kicking and incredible statistics. To see Porta go on one of his mesmerising, sidestepping and jinking runs, was to see the way God intended flyhalf play to be. He scored 10 tries in his 57 test matches, a try-scoring strike rate that puts him ahead of legendary modern-day running flyhalves like Larkham and Honiball. Plus he had the soft hands and touch associated with some of the legends like Marc Ella.

In all, Porta was capped 57 times for the Pumas, captaining them 34 times. He retired, fittingly, after captaining his beloved Pumas in the 1987 rugby world cup. In 1991, he was very fittingly appointed Argentinian ambassador to South Africa.
Even though I was very young, I was at the Ferrocarril Oeste´s Stadium (capacity 25.000) the day the Pumas tied with the All Blacks. Since that game, rugby experienced a huge boom in Argentina, and 2 years later, Pumas were playing at River Plate´s Stadium (capacity 100.00). Great achievements, and Porta was the genius of that generation, no doubt.
One more thing: Hugo Porta was amateur.