Pichot calls for Super Rugby teams to sign Pumas

Former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot has called on Australian and other Super Rugby franchises to make room for Argentinian players in their Super Rugby squads ahead of their inclusion in 2016.

Super Rugby organizers have said that they have put forward a proposal to include a sixth South African team and a team from Argentina when the broadcast agreement renews in 2016.

Pichot has called for the current Super Rugby franchises to start signing Argentinian players now in order to help his country prepare for their entry into Super Rugby.

The former scrum half made the call after an Argentinian Pampas XV beat a star-laden NSW A side 31-16 in Sydney on Friday in the IRB’s Pacific Rugby Cup.

The Pampa XV team was made up of Argentina-based players but not European professionals and also beat ACT A last week.

Most of Argentina’s top Test players currently play in France’s Top14 but would be expected to leave France and play Super Rugby when the team joins the new tournament.

The IRB are helping to bank roll Argentina’s development and UAR’s new academy system and Pichot wants their development players to be signed by the current teams.

“We will have 30-35-40 players, but the rest? Can they be part of the existing franchises? That’s where we will have to aim,” Pichot told the Daily Telegraph.

“Today we don’t have many players in Super Rugby. Why is that? Is it because they are not good enough? Maybe so.

“But if a young kid plays well for Argentina against Australia or New Zealand or South Africa, why wouldn’t he play well for you? I think that is a weak argument.

“It is probably because they don’t know the players, and of course there are restrictions for foreigners. But that’s what we’ll have to talk about next.”

Pumas captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said last year that he would encourage Argentina’s younger players to sign with Southern Hemisphere teams rather than Northern Hemisphere teams.

“They are the world champions, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and if you want to be the best you need to play against the best, train with the best and learn from the best,” Lobbe said.

However as it stands just two Argentinian players in Super Rugby: prop Matias Diaz at the Highlanders, and young second rower Manuel Carizza at the Stormers.

Australian teams have a development provision which allows them to sign a Japanese player without impacting on their 35-man squad limit but there is no such arrangement for Argentina’s players.

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