NZRU chair says Argentina mugging a blur
Mike Eagle had no time to lash out when he was mugged in Buenos Aires last weekend.
New Zealand Rugby Board chairman Eagle and board member Gerard van Tilborg were about 50 metres from the All Blacks' hotel when a pair of thieves pounced from a side-street, pinned their arms, began shouting in Spanish and stole van Tilborg's Rolex watch before escaping on motorbikes.
Eagle, now back in Christchurch, said he was just thankful no-one, including their wives who were 10 metres behind the men and ignored by the robbers, was injured.
"I wouldn't call it a vicious attack but it gave you a bit of a shock because you didn't know what they were going to do," Eagle said.
"There was physicality, yes, but not to the point of punching or anything like that. It was mainly just trying to hold your arms down and then sliding down to grab whatever they can and go."
The street was not considered dodgy and the couples had walked there earlier in their stay without incident.
A former Canterbury B and Albion club player, Eagle, 64, said the assailants didn't appear to be armed but there was little chance of fighting back.
"I had a big bag of shopping in my hands and I didn't want to let that go, so I was restricted. And they sort of try to pin your arms so you can't get them out.
"It was all a bit of a blur. They came out of nowhere, there was a bit of a scuffle and they jumped on the motorbikes which came from somewhere else and were gone."
Eagle, an electrical company owner, estimated the incident lasted only around "30 to 45 seconds".
Having watched the All Blacks thump Argentina 54-15 in La Plata the previous evening, the New Zealanders squeezed in a late walk around the shops before they boarded their bus to the airport 20 minutes later. The incident happened at 1.40pm local time.
Police, a number of whom were outside the All Blacks' hotel as they prepared to escort them to the airport, quickly arrived on the scene.
With the assistance of an interpreter from the hotel and a wife of one of the liaison officers, van Tilborg gave a statement.
Earlier in the week TVNZ journalist Steve Marshall had his camera stolen and several All Blacks fans had their pockets picked.
The incident wouldn't deter Eagle from visiting Buenos Aires again.
"It could happen anywhere," he said. "It's a good lesson. The idea, I think, is to stick together as a group.
"It's not much different from South Africa, you just have to be a bit more careful about where you go."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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