Super15 the new home for Argentina’s best

Super Rugby could become the new home to some of Argentina’s best players if a move to have the Pumas play in an expanded Tri-Nations tournament comes to fruition a year after the Super 14 expands to a Super 15.

The TriNations which features the national teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa could be expanded to a Four nations by including Argentina.

SANZAR who control Super Rugby and the TriNations have “conditionally” invited Argentina to join the TriNations from 2012.

The conditions stipulate that Argentina must ensure that their best players, the majority of whom play their professional rugby for European clubs, are available to play in the Four Nations.

SANZAR said that could be overcome by luring Pumas stars to Super rugby, which will expand to 15 teams in 2011 with the inclusion of either Melbourne or South Africa’s Southern Kings.

“The national unions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are very keen to actively work with Argentina to place their best players across Super rugby teams in the three countries,” a SANZAR statement said.

Melbourne is leading the race to be named the new Super 15 team and their biggest stumbling block appears to be the lack of depth in Australian Rugby. They have already discussed using offshore Australians, Pacific Islanders and rugby league players but the addition of Argentinean players will be an additional pool of talent.

SANZAR said the other conditions of Argentina joining, after they finished third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, were the need to finalise a financial model and the agreement of broadcasters.

“SANZAR is in the process of renegotiating its broadcasting contracts and, whilst we have kept our broadcasters fully informed about the discussions with Argentina, we now need to confirm their view on the plan to include Argentina from 2012,” SANZAR chief executive Andy Marinos said.

Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill was cautious in his support.

“Argentina has shown commitment, passion and a work ethic to date that highlights their desire to have the Pumas playing at the highest level possible on a consistent basis,” he said in a statement.

“Australia is excited by the possibility of having the Pumas in a Four Nations Championship.

“It is important therefore, with a conditional invitation on the table, for Argentina to keep moving forward and satisfying the necessary conditions.

” … We need to ensure the same integrity and quality of competition is guaranteed with a move to a Four Nations Championship, and Argentina understands that.

“Australia looks forward to Argentina making further progress in coming months.”

The format for the Four Nations would allow the tournament to flow better as the four teams would play on a home and away basis, meaning six matches per team and a total of 12 matches overall.

Crucially each team would be able to get a match in each week which will give the tournament greater momentum.

The new tournament would begin in mid-August, following the end of the expanded Super 15 competition.

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