Meet the Argentine bagpipers who will play Flower of Scotland ahead of the first Test in Jujuy

An Argentine pipeband known as the Buenos Aires Tartan Army will play Flower of Scotland before the game as Gregor Townsend’s side open their three-match Test series in the north-western city of Jujuy.

Kevin Ham has embraced Scottish culture and will play the pipes ahead of the first Test between Argentina and Scotland.
Kevin Ham has embraced Scottish culture and will play the pipes ahead of the first Test between Argentina and Scotland.

None of the band members is Scottish or comes from a Scottish family but the musicians are bound together by their love of the culture.

Among them is Kevin Ham, who has made the 1,200km trip from Buenos Aires to Jujuy, and his friend Rodrigo Capovilla who learned to play the pipes on Zoom.

Ham, who has already played at St Andrew’s Day parades in Buenos Aires and for the Scottish-born ambassador in Argentina, sees this as an important moment in relations between the two countries.

“It’s glorious for us to play the bagpipes at such an important match,” said Ham who lives in the capital with his wife (and translator) Irina.

“One of our members, Rodrigo, lives in Jujuy. The match organisers called Rodrigo because pipers in Jujuy are rare. So he contacted me to ask about more pipers and now we are travelling up there.

“Rodrigo is the only piper in the whole province and he learned how to play via Zoom, even before the pandemic. This was, and still is, the only way that he could take lessons. Long distances make it impossible to study in any other way.

“Everything is done with the love we have for Scottish Culture, every detail means much work including how to get the outfit and parts for the bagpipes. It creates an atmosphere of friendship and we become a family instead of just musicians who are playing instrume nts.”

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Ham revealed that the late Diego Maradona had an indirect role in the formation of the Buenos Aires Tartan Army.

“The story of the band began on November 18, 2008, the day before the national football team played Scotland in Glasgow in what was Diego Maradona’s first match as manager of Argentina.

“The TV shows called me to ask where the Scottish people in Argentina would be meeting to watch the match and the Buenos Aires Tartan Army was set up at that moment.”

Asked for an Argentina v Scotland prediction, Kevin laughs. “Remember I have to live here! But in this first match, maybe Scotland because we are playing for them!”

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