A Press Conference With a Difference.
The press conference to announce the Argentine side for Saturday’s international against Ireland began in supposition and ended in song. It was supposed to start at 11 am and was supposed to be an open session. But when the media arrived they were courteously informed that in fact it was a closed session and could they please go away and come back later.
Later was supposed to be 12 noon, but in fact it was after 1 pm before Liaison Officer, the tireless and ever patient Alfie Acheson went about the assembled hacks with the starting line-up. By then, Augustin Pichot, Felipe Contepomi and coach Marcello Loffreda were in deep conversation with various members of the press while the rest of the squad and management drifted into Naas clubhouse for a barbecued lunch.
Barbecued lunch? On a grey day in the spilling rain! Surely not?
Yes indeed, and head chef was none other than Miguel Servera, President of the Argentine Union. He spent the afternoon lumping succulent prime beef, supplied by QK Meats, onto the grills that sat over blazing logs – in the spills of rain.
Inside, the media and members of Naas RFC partook of this feast with the Puma team and management and the delays of earlier were totally forgotten in as good a piece of PR as one is likely to witness from an international touring group.
John Mullin, Chairman of Naas RFC welcomed the visitors, into our home and our hearts and Club President, Pat Brophy thanks the Pumas for their patronage but explained that although we have really enjoyed having you here at our club and would wish you well on Saturday, it’s only right that I hope the best side wins as long as it’s Ireland.
Miguel Servera took a break from his cooking duties, and apologising for his poor English, said, We feel so much at home and very comfortable here. We’ve had a terrific week and -tongue-in-cheek – enjoyed your Irish weather. He had a special word of thanks for Paul (Tony Lawler) and speaking of Saturday’s game he continued, Of course we look forward to the game with Ireland. We want to win of course, but anyway we are going to have a good time with your team. (Oh dear, whatever did he mean)
There was a certain party air permeating the clubhouse with the tourists obviously enjoying the informality of the occasion but when Naas Lord Mayor Timmy Conway broke into song with a stirring rendition of The Wild Rover, it provoked a response from the Pumas.
And what a response.
It came from prop forward Omar Hasan who took the mike and stole the show with two songs in a deep baritone voice that would do justice to any opera or theatre in the world.
Tony Lawler attempted to restore Irish parity with ‘The Fields of Athenry’ but he just couldn’t folly that.’ – Game set and match, Argentina.
Reluctantly we took our leave and one English journalist, commenting on the unusually laid-back atmosphere in the Puma camp remarked,
Y’know, I’m not sure whether the mood those guys are in, is a good or bad thing but if it’s a good thing then you (Irish) boys could be in a bit of bother on Saturday.”