Sunday, November 20, 2011
Argentina in the Four Nations - South Africa Perspective
The Rugby Championship: a South African Fan’s perspective
by Dallen Stanford
Argentina was the only top 10 IRB ranked team that doesn’t feature in an annual tournament. The recent news to expand the Tri Nations to include the Pumas into The Rugby Championship spells exciting times for rugby fans.
SANZAR’s decision a couple of years ago to simply expand the number of matches amongst the Tri Nations teams did not have the desired affect. Sometimes less is more. The new format of each nation playing home and away is a perfect balance, and adds more meaning to the championship when the matches are less frequent.
Bringing Argentina into the Southern Hemisphere competition makes sense on many levels. The Pumas play an exciting brand of rugby (demonstrated by their 3rd place finish at the 2007 RWC), and will certainly add their own flavour to the competition. Spectators who follow their team around the globe now have another great destination to explore. South Africans in particular enjoy a similar culture to Argentina; eating tons of red meat, drinking, rugby and the beaches.
One of the main complaints about the Tri Nations from a South African perspective is the traveling. New Zealand and Australia are a stone’s throw apart, which makes it less demanding for both those sides. The balance of traveling will shift slightly with Argentina joining the fray. It will take South Africa 9 hours to get to Argentina, but more importantly only have a 5-hour time difference. Compare that to more than 12 hours of travel to New Zealand or Australia (which doesn’t include domestic travel), together with a time difference of anything from 9 to 11 hours.
South African’s share similar lifestyle traits with Argentina, and the rugby culture of the South Americans have seen both SARFU and UAR working together in recent years. This development tool has seen Argentinean players competing in the South African Vodacom Cup competition since 2010. The Pampas XV is composed almost entirely by members of the High Performance Plan of the UAR. The team was first based in Stellenbosch (the breading ground of many Springboks), and this year re-located to Potchefstroom. After a fourth-placed finish in 2010, the Pampas XV team won the 2011 Vodacom Cup title, thanks to an unbeaten run.
South Africa has also used several top international players in their Currie Cup and Super Rugby campaigns, the two most famous Argentineans being Federico Méndez and Juan Martín Hernández.
Méndez was instrumental for Natal in 1996 - winning the Currie Cup competition and finishing second in the Super 12. Hernández, despite getting injured during the season, was part of the Natal team that eventually won the 2010 Currie Cup over Western Province.
Having Argentina form The Rugby Championship is fantastic for the game, and one only has to look at the rugby development in a country like Italy, since they joined the Five Nations in 2000, making it the Six Nations. My bet is that Argentina will beat Australia and the Springboks at least once in the first two years of this new series.
Without a competition like this, here are the statistics of Argentina against the Tri Nations teams:
Argentina vs Australia: Played 17 Won 4 Lost 12 Drew 1
Argentina vs New Zealand: Played 17 Lost 16 Drew 1
Argentina vs South Africa: Played 13 Lost 13
The 2012 Rugby Championship:
August 18 –
Australia v New Zealand (ANZ Stadium, Sydney)
South Africa v Argentina (Newlands, Cape Town)
August 25 –
New Zealand v Australia (Eden Park, Auckland)
Argentina v South Africa (TBC)
September 1 - Travel Bye
September 8 –
Australia v South Africa (Patersons Stadium, Perth)
New Zealand v Argentina (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
September 15 –
Australia v Argentina (Skilled Park, Gold Coast)
New Zealand v South Africa (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
September 22 - Travel Bye
September 29 –
South Africa v Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Argentina v New Zealand (TBC)
October 6 –
South Africa v New Zealand (FNB Stadium, Soweto)
Argentina v Australia (TBC)
Argentina2023 wishes to thank Dallen Stanford for his contribution. Stanford, also known as Paki, is a South African who was educated at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he graduated with a Marketing degree while playing rugby. His room mate at one time was former Springboks winger, Brent Russell. Stanford went on to be an international player himself. After he had gone to the USA on a holiday which involved playing rugby, he met Verity Branco whom he subsequently married and after three years in the USA Paki became eligible to play rugby for the USA Eagles. He went on to play 54 matches on the IRB World Sevens Series from 2006-2009, including 13 IRB Sevens tournaments and the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai. More recently, Stanford was appointed the USA Eagles Team Media Manager for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. He runs the successful rugby site, Paki´s Corner - www.pakiscorner.com