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Argentina can take a bow despite their loss to Australia, says Graham Simmons

Argentina can take a bow despite their loss to Australia, says Graham Simmons

Posted by PanamericanWorld on October 27, 2015

Mrs Simmons was frantically re-plumbing the pipes at the back of the box, I was vigorously jiggling the TV up and down in the hope of shaking some sense into it and the dog was running round in circles barking at both of us. Nothing.

Quickly, we chewed over our limited options. Louise and Daniel were away for half term and had left Maria the key to water the cat. Could the three of us, perhaps, sneak in there to watch the game? No, we couldn't, given our dog and their cat get on like, well, like cats and dogs; besides, if it came to a brawl, the odds would be heavily on the cat.

It was far too late to scramble to Jamie and Karen's, Tom and Ann were out and the Baldwins were still in Italy. I could always take a chisel to their French windows but that didn't seem terribly neighbourly. So - desperately - she re-jigged a few more cables, he barked a bit louder, I kicked the back of the TV, and, hey presto, there was that gormless chimp climbing up the poles at Twickenham. What exactly is he supposed to represent? No matter. We had rejoined the World Cup.

Rob Simmons ( No relation) goes over for Australia's first try!
Rob Simmons ( No relation) goes over for Australia's first try!

I confess, it's unusual for the missus and the mutt to get quite so frantic about a game of rugby - in fact, it's unheard of - but she is Argentinian and he is an Australian Shepherd dog, so this one came laden with hefty bragging rights. Mrs Simmons - like many of her tribe - is an impassioned pessimist, a product of, on the one hand, exuberant Latin bloodlines and, on the other, an unremitting procession of institutionalised corruption that's bled her country dry for generations, so her opening salvo of, 'if they start losing badly, I'm going for a walk', came as no surprise. Deep down, Argentinians are never quite sure whether their country is a source of despair or delight.

The dichotomy is never more obvious than when it comes to sport. Last week a well-connected chum at work got in touch offering to source some tickets to the final should Argentina prevail, a generous proposition which I passed on over dinner that very evening. Mrs Wife wrinkled her nose. 'I think I'd rather have some new curtains,' she said, and even after 21 years of marriage, neither of us knew for certain whether she was joking.

 Adam Ashley-Cooper scores in the corner
Adam Ashley-Cooper scores in the corner

Yet cometh the hour cometh the woman and there she was on the very edge of her beanbag with a token glass of 'Arbol de Vida Pinot Grigio' in one hand and her phone in the other texting Betania in Hanover, Laura in Long Island, Yamila in Buenos Aires and Marta in London. The World Cup had gone global from the middle of our living room.

Mind you, the omens didn't look good for Las Chicas Argentinas. Nothing like enough of the team were crying during 'El Himno Nacional' and, then, within a minute - blow-me-down - a Simmons had cantered through for Australia. 'He'd better not be a relation,' she muttered, as Foley banged over the extras, 'because if he is, he's off the Christmas card list.'

From bad to worse

It quickly got worse. Tuculet got badly scragged, Imhoff went off and Adam Ashley-Cooper flew into the corner, whereupon the mother of my children muttered a rude word. She wasn't the only one resorting to obscenities, as Pagadizabal leveled a Wallaby and offered him an unsolicited observation about his sexuality. The vocabulary of Argentinian oaths is surprisingly limited and, consequently, very easy to lip-read.

 Tomas Lavanini is sent to the sin-bin for his tackle on Folau
Tomas Lavanini is sent to the sin-bin for his tackle on Folau

'If they don't sort themselves out soon, I'm off to paint the bathroom,' said Mrs Wife, as another catch and drive splintered badly. Five minutes later and Lavanini - dubiously - was in the sin-bin prompting another small profanity. Marta came through with a text, presumably expressing her own outrage at the rank injustice of the yellow card. Mrs Simmons consulted her phone. 'No, she says there's 35 per cent off lighting at John Lewis next week.'

Despite his team being 12-3 to the good, Rousseau - dogs are born free but everywhere they are on leads - was still fast asleep on the floor. It takes a lot to excite an Australian Shepherd, especially after a long morning chasing rabbits. But then Ashley-Cooper went in again, Mrs Wife and I yelped in simultaneous exasperation and Rousseau - startled - leapt to his paws and trod on the remote control. Suddenly we were watching 'Songs of Praise'from Westminster Abbey and - frankly - the temptation to stick with it was almost overwhelming. Instead The Boss made good on her threat and stomped off to slap a brisk coat of cotton white on the bathroom ceiling.

A bloodied Scott Fardy
A bloodied Scott Fardy

Half time was grim. Out in the kitchen I rustled up two stiff cups of tea while trying to work out why Argentina were trying to run so much slow ball. But then in the second half, Los Pumas rallied. Sanchez brought the game back to 15-22 and - on cue - Mrs Simmons returned from the bathroom ceiling. Cordero had a dart but lost the ball. Amorosino cut through but was turned over. It was as frantic as it was brutal. 'Do you realise,' she said, 'that the only person on the pitch who isn't bleeding is the referee?'

All over

With 10 minutes to go, Rousseau slunk off to the kitchen, unable to stand the tension or - very possibly - the sound of his mistress unravelling. 'Get stuck into him, will you?' she shrieked, as the blue and the gold grappled on the ground for possession. Trust me, had my beloved been pitch-side and wearing her wellies, Michael Hooper would have taken one for the team.  

 Adam Ashley-Cooper scores in the corner
Adam Ashley-Cooper scores in the corner

But within a couple of minutes it was over. Drew Mitchell had weaved past - seemingly - every Puma on the pitch to set up AA-C for a three-trick, Australia - yet again - had prevailed at Fortress Twickenham and Argentina were gone. Mrs Wife, her jaw set grimly, disappeared to rinse her brushes - rather them than me - while I tried to explain to the dog that his boys were in a World Cup Final. 'All Blacks,' I said. 'You know, like Ozzy. Mrs. Wainwright's Labrador?' He was wagging his tail but I still don't think he quite got it.

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