While the Argentine and UK governments continue to bicker over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands, 25 veterans from both sides of the 1982 War decided to do something way cooler: bury the hatchet and play rugby.
The event, which was organized by Rugby Without Borders, took place at Esher Football Rugby Club.
Argentine and British veterans, along with family members and friends, played with a ball blessed by Pope Francis (because he’s everywhere) in a 40-minute game in which players from both countries played on mixed teams. Gustavo Zerbino, a survivor of the Uruguayan Andes plane crash and co-founder of the organization, also took part in the game.
Unlike every other news story involving the words “Malvinas” or “Falklands” (god forbid), this particular event sought to steer clear of politics.
“We’re not in favor nor against Argentine sovereignty, we have no borders,” Alejandro Diego, a member of Rugby Without Borders, said.
“The event’s only goal is to send a message of peace. There’s no political intent here, despite some people’s claim that there is. Rugby is just a means: what we’re trying to do here is change people’s attitudes,” he added.
The blue team beat the reds 20 to 5, but the score obviously didn’t matter because everyone won in our hearts. *Throws celebratory punch in the air. Cue inspiring music and credit roll*
After the game, and as is customary (and awesome) in rugby, everyone celebrated the “third half” and shared a few beers.
“The beauty of rugby lies in what comes after: we talked, shared a few beers and laughed,” Doctor David Jackson, who left the army in order to become a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist (from which he suffered), said.
“I realized many years ago that all of us who fought that war were someone’s son or husband. We were pawns in a political game,” he added.
Rugby, traditionally known for the sense of chivalry that accompanies the otherwise brutal sport, couldn’t have been a better pick to ease Argentine/UK tensions. Now that the Rugby World Cup is currently underway, we’re able to see this all too clearly.
In Rugby, rivalry begins and ends on the pitch. And that’s exactly what these veterans decided to do as well:
“My participation in the war was a part of my service in the army. It’s similar to rugby. There are no hard feelings after the final whistle. Both sides lost friends and loved ones in the war,” finished British Veteran Bob Ewen.