Friday, January 24, 2014

Rugby Championship - Argentina to play in Salta, La Plata and Mendoza

Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena

Official confirmation is yet to be made from the UAR but according to El Tribune Salta is going to host Argentina´s home match against South Africa in the 2014 Rugby Championship. It will take place on August 23 in the second round of the competition. The All Blacks will again play in La Plata in the fifth round while the match between Argentina and the Wallabies in the sixth round will be played at Mendoza which hosted South Africa in 2012 and 2013. 

Taking the Springboks fixture to Salta is a significant move on the part of the UAR and a tremendous realization for the city and province of Salta. It means that northern Argentina will host a Rugby Championship match for the first time. The city is an important part of rugby in the country but San Miguel del Tucumán is not only larger but also a more productive rugby city. 

Tucumán will not host a Rugby Championship match due to the city lacking a stadium with the modern facilities found in Salta. It will, however, host a test this year against Ireland. Salta, like La Plata and Mendoza hosted matches in the 2011 Copa América, South America´s biggest soccer event played every four years. 

Another city involved in the Copa América is Córdoba which had its stadium significantly upgraded for the tournament and hosted Argentina v France in June 2012. It had been expected to host a Rugby Championship fixture this year but it is understood that the possibility of this eventuating ended yesterday thus promoting the decision to have Mendoza host a match again in 2014. 

Rather than host the Springboks Mendoza is in line to host Australia this year while La Plata has been rewarded for delivering a strong attendance by hosting the most marketable fixture of the year - Argentina v New Zealand on September 27. Australia played in Rosario in 2012 and 2013 while Scotland did so in 2008. The Scots are to be confirmed as playing in Rosario or Córdoba in June with the fixture taking place a week after Tucumán hosts the second test against Ireland. 

The four cities mentioned by El tribune to be joining the already confirmed Resistencia and Tucumán for Argentina´s home matches in 2014 all have venues that were suggested in the Book Rugby World Cup 2023. It is further support that the UAR is actively promoting the growth of rugby and the brand of Los Pumas outside of Buenos Aires. 

Although there is no match in the capital this year La Plata is located 60KM from downtown Buenos Aires and is a satellite city of the capital. The facilities at La Plata are also the best in Argentina with the stadium having facilities to rival all others used in the tournament. El Monumental in Buenos Aires is larger and has hosted test rugby previously and will certainly do so in the future, arguably being suited to hosting the Rugby World Cup 2023 final. 

Argentina 2014 Rugby
June 7 Argentina v Ireland, Resistencia
June 14 Argentina v Ireland, Tucumán
June 21 Argentina v Scotland, Rosario / Córdoba
August 23 Argentina v South Africa, Salta
September 27 Argentina v New Zealand, La Plata
October 4 Argentina v Australia, Mendoza


  1. The problem I have with the venue at Salta is that it has only just over 20,000 seats. That seems a pretty small capacity for one of the biggest games on the Argentine rugby calendar. And please, La Plata is NOT in BA itself. Heck, you could call Hamilton a satellite city of Auckland but we both know while it is fairly close to Auckland it is definitely not in the city itself. Satellite city and being in the city itself is not the same for many fans. I live in Auckland, and I have only once ever gone to Hamilton for a ABs game (ironically vs Argentina in 2005) .

    Hey, the UAR is free to take games where it decides. I have no problem with that. BUT! The IRB is subsidising the high performance development of Argentinian rugby and I'm sure Argentina is getting more IRB funding than any other single rugby union in the world. That's an important point which hasn't really been acknowledged on this blog.

    That means the UAR has a duty to maximise it's revenues so that rugby fans and organisations across the world are not subsiding Argentinian rugby. The UAR in acknowledging the help it gets from the IRB absolutely has to put its best foot forward when it comes to revenue, and that includes match ticket sales.

    So, as far as I'm concerned, if the UAR is going to take big games to smaller venues and ignore their biggest venue, then they should hand some of that IRB money back. There are 100+ other unions in the world who would love to have higher funding from the IRB, including in South America. If the UAR wants to use some venues which are not going to maximise revenue then it is free to do it's own back and not someone else's. I want to make it crystal clear to Argentine fans who have been brought up on amateur rugby on this blog. The RC and Super rugby are fully professional and commercial enterprises not social groups. They are as much about business as rugby. If the Argentine super team isn't properly organised and commercially astute, the super rugby experience will be a very sad and sober one! As former ABs captain Tana Umaga once said, we're not playing tiddlewinks!

    1. Simon,

      Salta´s venue is larger than that of Napier´s which will host a match this year (against Argentina) and hosted two Rugby World Cup matches in 2011. It also has a population of over 600,000. I agree that the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena is not big enough but the UAR will make a lot from it. Tickets will be AR$600 which is US$84.

      I stress that the reason it is hosting is that Tucumán is deemed to not be up to Rugby Championship standards. It has a 32,700 venue - larger than all but two from RWC 2011.

      Instead Tucumán gets an Irish test and the larger Rosario gets Scotland. There were issues last year with Rosario which also contributed to the move. The UAR did, however, opt for Salta over Santá Fé which raises questions. Santa Fé has a great 40,000 venue.

      Australia v Argentina in Perth last year got just 15,438 people.

    2. It doesn't matter whether NZ or Australia play at smaller venues in the RC because our unions are doing so off our own back. The point I was making is that Argentina's participation in the RC is partly being subsidised by the IRB so that adds a higher responsibilty on to Argentina's shoulders IMHO to get as much revenue as possible so that they can quickly stand on their own two feet and free up IRB funding for other countries.

      If Argentina was in the same boat as the SANZAR unions and getting no subsidy from the IRB I would have absolutely no problem with the UAR putting on games at smaller venues when larger ones are available and I wouldn't even comment on the UAR doing so. The IRB subsidy is my point. Who cares if Australia got 15,000 in Perth (Well, Australia should care of course but!) . They aren't taking free money from the IRB to participate in the championship. If they lose money they have to fix things themselves. They only responsibilty they have to make things work is to themselves.

      What a pity Tucuman's stadium is not up to scratch. It's the hotbed of rugby outside BA and it's a shame it's fans are not getting to see RC rugby. Are there any plans at all to modernise its stadium? Also, yeah, why when Santa Fe has a great 40K stadium would you go to one half the size...and importantly with half the revenue?

      To be honest NZ only has two decent sized stadiums now that AMI in Christchurch is gone after the earthquake. So the capacity is pretty much going to be the about the same whichever regional stadium you go to and Argentina has to understand that the opposition with the biggest and fierciest history against the ABs is going to get the bigger stadiums in the short term. That's why the sooner the Pumas get up to speed and get regular victories in the RC the better. they did play at the 2nd biggest venue in the first year, and maybe next year when the ABs have two Aussie home tests they can afford to hold two RC matches in Auckland. It's a pity Dunedin hasn't hosted the Pumas yet as that's probably the no3 stadium in NZ now. A pity too that Christchurch doesn't have AMI Stadium anymore as that would've given a further bigger capacity stadium and meant there were more options to have the Pumas at a bigger venue. The Christchurch earthquake has cramped the venue options in NZ a bit and the rebuild is going to take some years yet, including the stadium (The plan for a new, covered modern one of 35K capacity is a very controversial topic in Christchurch!)

    3. You make a strong argument Simon. There is no denying this and I do not intend to do so.

      The UAR needs to be a self-sustainable entity capable of seeing paying its own way. The good news is that signs are that the union is on the right track. The UAR reported a $100 million pesos profit from the first two Rugby Championships. This is absolutely unheard of for Argentine rugby. The IRB investment is going into the PladAR system which is to be the academy for the SUper Rubgy team.

      With the team entering in 2016 (tba on February 20) the union and the IRB both know that it is almost mission accomplished. The business model put forward by Pichot appears sensible and South Africa certainly will vouch for this.

      Part of the reason behind Salta is also that 10,000 fewer people than expected attended to Argentina v South Africa match in Mendoza in 2013. The shocking performance in Soweto turned away a lot of people.

      With the UAR having the top 40 players on central contracts from the 2015-2016 (NH) season onwards there will no longer be the issue of fielding weak sides in the June tests and from conversations I have had it is likely that Rugby Championship matches will be played entirely at the largest venues. Until then Argentina is still in transition. When the players are not burned out the results will improve.

  2. I cannot register on the Fira forum so I answer Beeman or BEH's remarks about the Pumas June fixtures here. Do you think that the UAR decides who they play? Argentina gets always the spare team that skips SA, NZ and AUS. The NH nations organize their plans ahead (I think we get Wales in 2016) and the UAR just rolls with it. The Georgia test was suggested by the IRB. They accepted it because they had a unoccupied date and because they felt obligated for all the financial help they received up until 2012. By the way, no provincial union wanted to host that test because it was going to lose money, which it did.
    I agree we should play more Tier 2 fixtures but in November away from home. Also, Romania could find an opening in August, when we warm up for the Rugby Championship. Instead of an "A" team, we play our full squad. Romania has 90% of their players at home so it could be feasible.

    1. Anonymous, I am a member of the Fira-Aer forum and registration to the forum has been a heated topic with the admin refusing to backdown on making it easier (I was lucky and joined some years ago before the current system came in). I've heard it suggested that if you know a member they can vouch for you to the admin. I would have to see some posts from you over a month or so under a particular username (I'm not just go to vouch for anyone!) on here, and then happy that you weren't an absolute lunatic I could advise Paul to let you know my email address and you could send me your personal details for me to vouch for you if you still want to become a member. Hey, Paul, did you try and get beeman (BEH here) to vouch for you? I'm really surprised you couldn't join. On the thread about getting more members I think it said there is a requirement for new members to have a certain type of email address (gmail or Is that right? I know planetrugby has the condition that to comment on its articles you have to be a facebook member which I refuse to be!

  3. Hey Paul. I contacted you recently about the game in La Plata. Now that the venue is all but confirmed, would you know the best way to guarantee getting tickets? Would really appreciate your help. J.

    1. J,

      I would suggest asking your travel agent to include it in a package. You will save a lot on hotel costs. Otherwise you can wait for the UAR to post them on its website which will take some time.

  4. Not sure about the packages Paul. They're going for NZ$5000 which we're not willing to pay so we're going to organize it all ourselves. Will have to go through the UAR. Cheers!

    1. And the NZ game tickets will be snapped up very fast! You'll be lucky to get any. Find an Argentinian rugby friend to get the tickets if you can and pay them back when you get there (That's how I got tickets to the AB v Italy game in Milano in 2009 otherwise I would've also had to pay the package which is always the only officiaI way of doing it in NZ for overseas games except possibly Australia). I looked at doing it that way as I could get airline staff travel but by the time I was planning it the game was already sold out.

      Maybe Paul can suggest an Argentinian forum where you could ask as I'm sure some of the members of any such forum would speak English and might be happy to buy tickets on your behalf in exchange for maybe some kind of rugby gift (eg I got my Italian friend a NZ provincial jersey from my home province)

  5. I don't understand. I was under the impression that tickets go on general sale on the UAR website. If that is true, why would I need someone from Argentina to purchase them for me. La Plata was almost full last year but it wasn't sold out entirely. You can see that on TV. What's stopping me getting them through the UAR website?