Argentina invited to join 'Four-Nations' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Argentina invited to join 'Four-Nations'

14/09/2009 05:27:15 PM Comments (0)

The new Super 15 would become 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.

The marquee southern hemisphere competition could be expanded to a Four-Nations from 2012 after governing body SANZAR on Monday "conditionally" invited Argentina to join.

Those conditions include the major sticking point with the Argentines in previous discussions about their involvement - ensuring their best players, the majority of whom play their professional rugby for European clubs, are available.

But 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's bid had already addressed the reality of the lack of depth in Australian rugby, with officials claiming offshore Australians, Pacific Islanders and rugby league players would help bolster their ranks.

If the Victorians are successful, concessions could mean the move to farm out Argentina's stars would add another source of playing talent.

SANZAR said the other conditions of Argentina joining, after they finished third at the 2007 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.

While the carrot has been dangled in front of the Argentines, they have also been reminded of the massive amount of work it will take to make the more complete southern hemisphere tournament a reality.

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 see the four teams playing on a home and away basis, meaning six matches per team and a total of 12 matches overall.

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

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