Full name Hugo Porta
Born September 11, 1951, Buenos Aires
Current age 65 years 229 days
Major teams South America, World XV, Argentina, Argentina XV
|IRB Rugby World Cup||1987-1987||3||3||0||33||0||3||9||0||0||1||2||0||33.33|
|Test debut||Argentina v Chile at Montevideo, Oct 10, 1971 match details|
|Last Test||Scotland v Argentina at Murrayfield, Nov 10, 1990 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list|
Hugo Porta's achievements at international level are almost incomparable with any other player. While many players make an impact on a team or competition, Porta's unique talents lifted Argentina from their status as a minor nation to one of respect among the international rugby community.
A fly-half who was able to drop a goal on a sixpence, Porta rose to prominence during the 1970s. He made his international debut against neighbours Chile in October 1971, and won three further caps against Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay that year.
His first taste of world-class opposition came in 1972, when he lined up against the touring South Africa Gazelles. Argentina drew the two-Test series 1-1 following a close 18-16 win at Ferrocaril Oeste. Porta's Pumas then came within seconds of claiming a famous victory over a Grand Slam winning Welsh XV at Cardiff Arms Park in 1976. The Argentinean side were pipped 20-19 by tries from Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies.
In October 1979 a watershed moment occurred for Argentinean rugby when Porta and the Pumas defeated Australia 24-13 in Buenos Aries. Porta landed two conversions, three drop-goals and a penalty during the game that put the Argentinean side on the map. An 18-18 draw with France followed, and Porta was again responsible for all of his side's points on this occasion.
During the years of South Africa's international isolation, there were frequent tours by the South American Jaguars, a composite side akin to the Lions. Porta achieved one of his greatest feats when he kicked all of the Jaguars 21 points in their only ever win on South African soil at Bloemfontein in 1982. Then, not content with beating the Wallabies at home four years earlier, in 1983 Porta's team registered an 18-3 win over the Australians at Ballymore in Brisbane.
Porta's expertise continued to grow as he faced more and more world-class opposition. Both he and the Pumas grew in confidence as their results improved into the 1980s. Porta's skill with the boot had already contributed so much to the Argentina side that it was no surprise when in 1985 he kicked all 21 points in the Pumas historic draw at Ferrocaril Oeste with the mighty All Blacks.
Later in 1985, Porta was awarded the prestigious Clarin Sportsman of the Year award. The significance of this cannot be understated considering the status of football as the overwhelming favourite sport of the Argentinean population. Porta led Argentina to the inaugural World Cup in 1987, but the Pumas had a torrid time at the tournament. They only registered a single win, 25-16 over Italy, and were humbled by 46-15 by the All Blacks in their final pool match.
At the end of the tournament, Porta announced his retirement from rugby, but he was called back into action against England, Ireland and Scotland in 1990. Argentina slipped to heavy defeats against England and Scotland and were also soundly beaten at Lansdowne Road, but Porta had not refused his country's call.
He retired again, and was installed as the Argentinean ambassador to South Africa in 1991. Then, in 1994, he took up a post as the Argentinean Sports Minister and served in the post until 1999. Porta joined the UAR during its restructuring in 2006 and worked with the subcommittee concerned with professional rugby as well as amateur rugby and international affairs.
He will always be remembered by the rugby community as a player of alarming skill and accuracy, and as a man who changed the fortunes of his beloved national side.