Argentina's Jaguares have touched down to the capital to take on the in-form Hurricanes in front of a huge crowd expected at Westpac Trust Stadium tonight. Kids from Petone Rugby Club got to meet the players, who also participated in a training session and cultural exchange with local iwi.
In diversity we can find strength, both on and off the field, according to Argentinian ambassador to New Zealand, Fausto Lopez Crozet.
"We do think that through sports and culture... we can strengthen the relation between our countries."
The team's passion for both proved inspirational for the six hundred kids who play for the Petone Rugby Club.
Coach of the Petone U13s Kevin Mataiti says, " It's something that the kids strive for. They look up to these players, looking to one day actually replace them."
Taranaki Whānui elder Neville Baker says, "I think it is inspirational...they got the chance to meet because we're in Wellington and [thanks to] the availability on the Argentinian side to come out here and mix with the children. At the end of the day, this is about encouraging our tamariki to be able to participate with adults who have actually reached the pinnacle of the business of rugby."
The visitors felt more at home after sharing traditional song and dance with the locals.
"That is really really important to us. We do think that contacts at the top level of government are important, but as important as that is the people-to-people relations," says Crozet.
A win tonight would see the Jaguares claim the top spot in the South African conference, a positive step towards play-offs contention.