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.
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."