|Photo El Diario|
Pichot and Hernández won in 2007
After two decades of professional competition Super Rugby has expanded to include a new country for the first time. Argentina's Pampas XV side is to join the competition in 2016 and be based in Buenos Aires. All home matches have been confirmed as being played in the Argentine capital after SANZAR union members made the request to simplify travel arrangements.
A number of possibilities exist for the home venue of the team a Buenos Aires is home to over half of the twenty clubs involved in the country's national professional soccer competition, the Primeira División. Neighboring La Plata also has two teams which increases the options which are to begin being explored in what is to be a joined effort with the UAR sharing control of the franchise with a yet to be determined investor.
In being added and confirmed as being a Buenos Aires based franchise the focus of the authorities is now to shift on signing players. Those based in Europe will need to return and some have been confirmed as doing so. Recent Castres recruit Ramiro Herrera is confirmed as returning in 2016 while Racing Métro winger Juan Imhoff is to do so in the coming weeks.
Not all players are to be back for the Super Rugby season though as Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Marcos Ayerza are both confirmed as staying on in Europe after Rugby World Cup 2015. The futures of many other Pumas is to be clarified shortly and Pichot is confident that they are to return to Argentina. This past week Juan Martín Hernández told Midi Olympique that if the Pampas XV want him he will come home.
Argentina's acceptance as an integral part of SANZAR has also been completed as the UAR is now an official SANZAR member. Argentina is therefore no longer a guest but a partner. It is a crucial change and a vital one for the UAR to put together a bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023.