Sunday, January 23, 2011

Argentina move towards Super Rugby inclusion

The Southern Hemisphere´s premier professional rugby tournament, the Super 14 has been expanded this season to include a fifteenth side - the Melbourne Rebels which means Australia will now join New Zealand and South Africa in having five teams each. Expansion is commonly considered to continue with Argentina being the next in line to be added in the coming years. The inclusion of Los Pumas in an expanded Tri-Nations as of 2012, combined with the development the PladAR program which has enabled the inclusion of Los Pampas XV in South Africa´s Vodacom Cup all binds together to give Argentina a set of over 30 domestic based players to, in the coming years, be used to form one or more Argentina Super Rugby sides. In addition, with Argentina being added to the Tri-Nations, it is a question of time before existing Super Rugby sides sign Argentine players.

SANZAR´s new CEO, Greg Peters was recently in Argentina to evaluate Argentina´s progress as their entry into the new Four Nations rapidly approaches. Peters spoke praises of the UAR´s move towards a professional structure and said "They now have a paid general manager who has been appointed, and a commercial manager and high performance people. It's huge changes." During his visit to Argentina, Peters visited the Belgrano Athletic in Buenos Aires which has 1400 children and 300 seniors on its playing membership, numbers which are far greater than those in New Zealand clubs nowadays. Belgrano Athletic play in the URBA Top 14 who do not want the competition to go pro. Rather than say this is a problem that needs to be resolved, Peters thinks of it as evolution in that Argentina´s admission to the Four Nations and their inevitable inclusion in Super Rugby need not replicate the path of the existing countries. Rather, Peters believes Argentina has its own circumstances in which URBA acn maintain its status while Argentina continues to move in the professional direction. Peters believes Argentine players will very shortly be playing Super Rugby.

The consequences of the passion and progress of Los Pumas at Rugby World Cup 2007 continue to bring Argentina extensive benefits. The inclusion of Argentina in the Four Nations, the addition of Argenitne players to Super Rugby teams and the creation of Super Rugby teams in Argentina itself will tick all the boxes for Argentina to indeed be more than prepared to host Rugby World Cup 2023.

With Thanks: Dominion Post

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