The New Zealand All Blacks took time during their pregame Haka, a Māori ceremonial war dance, to pay tribute to the late Diego Maradona prior to the team's Tri-Nations match against Argentina on Saturday. Maradona died Wednesday of a heat attack at age 60.
Team captain Sam Cane laid a jersey of the New Zealand rugby team down on the field prior to the start of the match. The back had a No. 10 on it with the name Maradona as well. The Argentina players stood stoic, arm-in-arm as the All Blacks performed their haka, but some players nodded their head in acknowledgment of the gesture that their opponents made.
A special gesture from the All Blacks to Argentina before tonight's Haka.— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 28, 2020
🎥: @skysportnz #ARGvNZL pic.twitter.com/IRlGvmFgyV
That is where the niceties between the two sides began and ended, as the All Blacks absolutely took it to the Argentine squad with a 38-0 victory to take a firm control of the Tri-Nations with just one match remaining. It reversed a two-game skid for New Zealand, and prevented the side from losing three consecutive matches for the first time in over 20 years.
Argentina, meanwhile, was just a couple weeks removed from a victory over the All Blacks, and were actually looking to repeat their efforts that led to a 25-15 victory over New Zealand. They sit five points behind New Zealand in the Tri-Nations standings and will not only need to win, but also secure a bonus point victory -- meaning score four tries or more -- in their final match of the tournament against Australia.
"We've done a lot of effort to come over here and a lot of sacrifices not to finish the way that we deserve to finish," Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said, per the Associated Press. "We'll go out there and try to have a great game."