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Alastair Hignell

Crying out for Argentina (109)

Agustin Pichot and his magnificent Pumas will return to Argentina next week to massed crowds, bands and prime-time TV.

Their achievement in becoming the first Argentina side, the first team from outside the IRB founder-nations, to reach the last four of a World Cup, will be rightly saluted.

And while Puma-mania grips Buenos Aires, elsewhere in the rugby world drums will be banged, tables will be thumped and the demand will bellow out, "Something Must Be Done".

Argentina, like the other success stories of this World Cup (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and to a lesser extent Georgia) do not play enough meaningful rugby between tournaments. The Pumas have over 400 professional players plying their trade around the world and their success at this World Cup, over host-nation France on a memorable opening day, and over Ireland and Scotland, not only confirmed their ranking at number four in the world order, but also reinforced the notion that they would be a worthy addition to either the Tri-Nations or the Six Nations.

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But which competition, and why? There is a theory that the Tri-Nations, involving just Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a seemingly endless and monochromatic series of matches, could do with an injection of new blood.

But there are already huge distances and multiple changes of time-zones involved and to add yet more - the flight from Sydney to Buenos Aires, for instance, takes 16 hours - would multiply already significant logistical and player-welfare problems, especially as European-based players - the majority of the Argentina team - would have to fly from yet another corner of the globe.

There is a seductive argument that would acknowledge the fact that most of the top Argentine players are to be found in Europe and therefore add the Pumas to the Six Nations, with home matches played in front of hitherto unexploited rugby markets in Madrid, Barcelona or even, following a kite flown with some gusto by the Belgian Rugby Union, Brussels.

But that would add at least one extra week to the Six (or presumably Seven) Nations, and, in creating a lop-sided tournament with one inactive team per round of matches, increase still further the time which clubs are denied the services of their international players.

Some clubs employ Argentine players precisely because they are available all season; they would hardly be likely to bid a fond farewell to their current stars for a large chunk of the season. They’d also be far less likely to employ Argentine players in the future.

And that of course would mean that Argentina teams will inevitably become less competitive. This current crop of Pumas have become great players through honing their skills in the Guinness Premiership in England and Le Championnat in France.

Without exposure to European club rugby, the Argentine national side would be markedly inferior. With it, it is so prey to market forces that it becomes overloaded in some areas, and dangerously weak in others. For instance, outside half Federico Todeschini, architect of the Pumas' victory over England last autumn, can’t get a place because Juan Martin Hernandez, one of the best players on the planet, and Felipe Contepomi are ahead of him, while the cupboard at scrum-half and hooker, where Gus Pichot and Mario Ledesma have no serious rivals and more worryingly no serious replacements, is bare.

The problem is that the game in Argentina is comparatively weak. It remains resolutely amateur, with the consequence that any player of talent and ambition leaves as soon as he gets offered a contract. Without the best players, the game fails to attract major sponsors. Without major sponsors it fails to develop the structure and competition to ensure an ongoing supply of top-class Pumas.

Without the structure and the competition in the future, the success of this generation of Pumas will come to be regarded as a glorious one-off, never to be forgotten but never to be repeated.

The IRB will earn no plaudits for it, but, painful as it may be, it has to channel resources to ensure Argentina first gets it right at home, before offering a world stage to the Pumas.



Alastair Hignell is a former England rugby international who commentates on rugby union for Radio 5 Live. He is covering England at the World Cup. 5 Live's full broadcast schedule is here.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:04 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • paulcedron wrote:

As an Argentinian, i agree 100% with this comment.
But the fact is that a lot of people involved (players, ex players, coaches, club managers) don´t want professionalism for rugby in Argentina.
We feel very comfortable with this amateur structure, maybe because that make us feeling far away from football and all its problems.

  • 2.
  • At 06:16 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

why all this fuss about Argentina when Samoa have performed above their station in many of the world cups to date. I would sudjest that the tri nations is reformed as a southern 6 nations with the following nations:

Australia
New zealand
South Africa
Argentina
Samoa
Tonga or Figi

they have all deserved greeat credit and should be rewarded.

imagine if england had been part of such a selfish and exclusive club as the tri nations! the rest of the rugby world would complain of unfair self serving arrogant english and demand something be done.

come on southern hemesphere do the right thing by all your neighbours.

(maybee new zealand will struggle a bit without all the samoan players that suddenly become kiwi)

  • 3.
  • At 06:43 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • bokkieUSA wrote:

I think nations such as Fiji need to learn to play a clean game first. i.e. their refereeing needs to be cleaned up at home first. There is too much at stake to allow protential risks of serious injury to the other teams.

  • 4.
  • At 06:53 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Walter wrote:

I got 3 comments regarding this article:
First; in terms of structure Les Cusworth who has been living in Argentina since 2003 is much more in favour of the amateur set up than a professional one... at least for a country like Argentina, where you have to consider not only the geographical distances between cities, but also the economic situation.
Secondly, Argentina has demonstrated, over and over the years that is a source of world class players (again L. Cusworth quoted a 3% of players working in Europe) but Castrogiovanni, Pez et al are a few more to take into account (I believe there are 5 "Argies" playing for Italy in this current team - but this is not new, we have to remember "El Topo" Rodriguez taking Australian citizenship to teach the Wallabies a thing or 2 about scrummaging, which they have duly forgotten!)
Finally, instead of building on all the negatives, why don't we give a serious consideration to a 2nd league of 6 Nations? (Argentina, Georgia, Romania, Portugal, Russia & AN Other), the winner goes up, and the last nation in the current 6N goes down? (ie: this year would have been Scotland).
Leaving all naiveties behind, Rugby is a big business. I urge IRB to start looking at France WC attendances where Argentina played: Argentina-Namibia in Marseille (closest location to Spain where Pumas played): 55,000 spectators. Namibian origin: 100 at the most, Argentinians probably between 15 to 20,000. Don't you think if Pumas were playing in Barcelona, Valencia, Palma or Madrid you will be able gather enough supporters to fill in a stadium? More people than in Estadio Flaminio for sure... or some of the disolated images we saw in Murrayfield in recent years? With the passion demonstrated by these supporters coupled with the good results obtained by Pumas, IRB needs to capitalise on it now!!!
It makes sense from business perspective, rugby schedules should not be altered further, and the future of rugby (not only Argentinean rugby, but Portuguese, Georgian, Rumanian, etc) will be going hand-in-hand with the current times.

  • 5.
  • At 07:27 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Why not an American competition, Canada, USA, Argentina and any others. Would solve any time difference issues, although possible seasonal issues would arise. Just a thought.

  • 6.
  • At 07:43 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Will Critchlow wrote:

"I think nations such as Fiji need to learn to play a clean game first. i.e. their refereeing needs to be cleaned up at home first. There is too much at stake to allow protential risks of serious injury to the other teams."

They are almost all professionals, they are playing under the IRB rules and are penalised and/or cited accordingly for dangerous misdemeanours, just like any other team. Even though I have no link to any of these teams, I find your comments ignorant, prejudiced and offensive. Why should they not be allowed to play just because there is a possibility of them hurting other teams?

  • 7.
  • At 07:56 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Alan Jennings wrote:

I think the 2 tier 6 nations would be a brillant idea:

Division 1

Ireland
England
Wales
Scotland
France
Italy

Division 2

Portugal
Georgia
Romania
Russia
Cech Republic
Ukraine

I don't think any promotion/relegation system should be implimented until the 2nd tier nations have been given a number of years to develop their game as they would have no chance in the 1st tier. Italy had to get up to standard the hard way.

The Tri-Nations should be Increased to 6 teams;

New Zealand
Austrailia
South Africa
Fiji
Samoa
Tonga

An American/Asian Tournament:

USA
Argentina
Canada
Japan
Korea
Uruaguay

This would greatly increase the quality of these nations as they would have a annual tournament instead of just Qualifiers for the world cup

  • 8.
  • At 08:23 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • danny t wrote:

Not sure about comments of extending tri nations, after the debacle this year wasn't Bobby Skinstad complaining about the travelling challenges they have and how he would prefer SA to be part of the 6N

  • 9.
  • At 08:24 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

superb idea alan, i agree 100%

It is a shame that argentina have to play in the worst competition but some other country would suffer exclusion if they were put elsewhere, i hope for rugbys sake that your idea is taken up. probably wont be though.

  • 10.
  • At 08:31 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

Argentina are too good to play in a second tier league. Ideally they should play in the Tri-nations, but logistically with most of their players playing in Europe this may not be possible.

I don't think they will be allowed to join the six nations on the basis that they are too good and will be challenging for the title every year.

  • 11.
  • At 08:41 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Trif wrote:

More regional tournaments is a point that keeps getting brought up, but they already have these. Uganda recently won the african regional cup. canada, japan, the US, and russia compete in the super cup and fiji, tonga, samoa compete in the pacific nations cup. the problem with this is that these teams dont get any better by playing their neighbours.

with any competition you have two options: promotion and relegation, or a more super 14 style of everybody in the one league. both formats encourage good competition in different ways. the problem is that we currently have in international rugby at least 3 "leagues" with no promotion or relegation.

i think most people would agree that you become better players when you play against better teams regularly.

logistics seem to be the major hinderance to any forward movement

  • 12.
  • At 08:43 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Stuart McCoshim wrote:


As a Scotsman living in New Zealand. here is a suggestion.

Expand the six nations to eight teams to include South Africa & Argentina. Play the tournament in two sections, one during the autumn international window, with second period being the existing six nations slot.

This would avoid the problems with clubs, via country issues of extra internationals and bid fair well to all those meaningless autumn test matches.

South Africa are Im sure keen to play in the European competition, as Im sure are their sponsors.

There could be a second division competition for smaller teams played at the sametime.

As for the Southern Hemisphere giants, they could have their own competition, involving Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, providing these smaller teams with support and encouragement, rather than creaming off the island nations top players.

Perhaps there could be a slot in the autumn every couple of years for either NZ or Australia to tour, much as the Lions do now.

  • 13.
  • At 08:48 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

The 6 nations already has a division 2 (the European nations cup). What I would like to see is the winner of the nations cup (which runs over 2 years) and Argentina to be included in the 6 nations. This would mean a team like Georgia, Romania or Portugal would get 2 years in the tournament before being replaced by the next winner.
If the 6 nations was to be expanded, then the additional fixtures should be played in the autumn instead of a couple of the meaningless autumn internationals.

  • 14.
  • At 08:48 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Guy Burgess wrote:

Couldn't agree more with Alan Jennings. It would certainly give NZ and Australia a chance to learn how to play for 80 mins instead of running around CLUELESS after 60.

  • 15.
  • At 08:51 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Billy Bob wrote:

Re: Will Critchlow

Judging from the number of dangerous high and late tackles that have been committed by the south sea islanders teams in this world cup would you want your team to play them every year!!!

These teams have enough size and skill to compete with other nations without resorting to the dirty intimidatory tactics that they currently employ.

I find your comments to be naive and your obviously one of these people who jumps on the band wagon and brings out the racial conitations when someone dares to criticize these nations.


  • 16.
  • At 09:10 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • trif wrote:

with regards to the "islanders being dirty" issue:

i think you'll find that the number of citations for these countries had not been wildly above the average.

if these players are guilty of anything it is unrestrained enthusiasm. they are not inherently dirty players. the way to improve the discipline is to expose them to competetive rugby on a regular basis. telling them to improve this or that first is just some lame excuse to avoid admitting them to your table.

if the island nations were really that dirty then i think you would find that SA would currently have quite a few more injuries than they do, having played all three.

and finally, any percieved lack of discipline is surely compensated for by the unique and exciting brand of rugby that they bring?

any england fans should probably not answer that question.......

  • 17.
  • At 09:33 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Depressed Irishman wrote:

I dont think there is any point with a second league, the simple fact is Argentina are the best team not to be in a competion and if the tri nations will not allow them in we should invite them to the six nations. the arguement that one poster said that england might be annoyed because they are not in the tri nations is not a fair analogy as england is already in a competion and Argentina is not, If Argentina play their games in spain that kills two birds with one stone in the dream of spreading Rugby Union football across the world

  • 18.
  • At 09:55 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Jeremy Humphries wrote:

The fantastic success of the Argentinian team over the last few years and especially at this World Cup has naturally left people clamouring for them to be included in either the Six Nations or the Tri Nations tournaments.
The Tri Nations has always looked a bit of a non starter due to the huge distances involved in travelling to matches but the Six Nations could be accomodating if a solution can be found to the problem of players being away from their clubs for an extra week of the season.
I think that the best solution all round would be for one of the weaker nations - say, Wales in the Six Nations or Australia in the Tri nations should they decide to play in the Southern Hemisphere - to step down to allow the stronger team to join.
Only right really!

  • 19.
  • At 09:57 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Omar wrote:

I think that there are many people afraid, but it is natural when one feels threatened.
The sports development is based on the hard work and the achievement of new skills.
You must see the results to realize which is the progress in a sport, and year over year there are many news about that.
In a globalised world there are many narrow minds. Many people would have to read, among others, the book "Mind set" in order to see the advantages of competing against the best ones to get better and not to avoid taking permanent risks.
My final opinion is that the time runs and the things become real, before or later. So, it is better to take part of the changes in spite of seeing the new history to be written while thinking happily of the glory sometime obtained.
Go on Pumas!!! Go on working and getting along!!!

  • 21.
  • At 10:57 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Daz wrote:

As a football fan again i've been captivated by the IRB World Cup. I don't understand many of the rules and at times i'm confused by the penalties awarded (i've never played Union and only in fits and starts have I played League). However what i can recognise is total commitment from players who don't see a win emphasising personal gain. I only wish Football could convey the same passion in it's players. What Rugby has got right now in my opinion is a great opportunity. Fiji don't want to be bit part players. Samoa don't show to make up the numbers. USA hate being second best. Make the game truly global and adopt Footballs winning format, contintal and global competition. Ask Argentina, two time FIFA world champions how they would feel if they only played a meaningful tournament every 4 years. Do you think they could they be the force they are. I doubt it. Yet their Rugby team has come at least 4th in the Rugby World Cup with 1 shot every 4 years. Elitism, in my opinion has no place in Sport.

  • 22.
  • At 10:57 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Phillip wrote:

The idea of a 2-tier 6N actually sounds quite good to me. Not only would it allow us to eventually increase the number of competitive teams at the world cup, but it would also provdie certain lackadaisical home nations (coughwalesandscotlandcough) with a bit of a much needed kick up the a***.

With all the travel difficulties involved it would be hard for Argentina to make it a 4N tournament, a). do we really want them in the 6N which theyd win often as not and b). the standard of rugby there might just be a bit beneath them. out of all the current 6N teams the only ones id back to beat argentina would be france on a good day--yes, that includes our world-cup finalists. id back argentina to beat you as well (yes im a wales fan. no, i dont think wales would have a cats chance in hell against argentina).

simply put, the tri-nations are more up to argentinas standard of playing. and give them a regular tournament, and they might, just, in eight/twelve years time, be lifting the wwe trophy. and no, i dont think thats taking it too far. its an outside chance.

  • 23.
  • At 11:31 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Patrick Sawers wrote:

Good idea ALAN JENNINGS.

One question though, will the other 5 nations be a good enough competition for Argentina in the America's Asia Cup?

Also, with a southern hemisphere 6 Nations, each team will only play one more game than it currently does under the present tri-nations setup. It would make it more of a prize to win and the potential slip up of the SANZAR nations on the Pacific islanders would make it a thrilling tournament.

Just can't see Argentina getting into that logistically. Also, they should play at home if at all possible. Why deny the fans.

Remember that the 6 Nations is (curently) a EUROPEAN tournament and that there are divisions underneath where Georgia, Romania and the like already play.

The top 20 nations could organise a 4 year test series where they play most teams in that time. I kind of round robin.

The guiding Principle - WHATEVER IS DONE MUST BE FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME AND THEREFORE THE STRENGTHENING OF THE NATIONS THAT ARE EMERGING.

Thanks Argentina for doing your part in making the tournament alive.

  • 24.
  • At 11:45 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I think the solution is for the IRB to back (financially) an America´s Five Nations Tournament (Argentina, Canada, USA, Uruguay and Chile), which will help develop the game in other countries in the Americas. Over the years if the US and Cabada for example, develop into strong sides, it will pay off.
To give the Pumas a competitive game or two, perhaps the winner of this competition can play the winner of Tri-Nations, in home-and-away games.

  • 25.
  • At 12:56 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

As a big fan of Argentina - the country, its culture and its people, I think the Pumas deserve better than they now get. The comments from Hignell are really spot on though. Argentinians play mainly in Europe, though this is only a small percentage of all players. So why not a 7-nations? Well, it is really already too long now. We could kick Italy out of it and replace it with Argentina but that's unfair on the Italians.

How about an annual 2-group southern hemisphere competition? Something like 2 little leagues (at least 1 match on home soil) and the top 2 in each play off in semis and a final or another little league all in the same country?
1. Australia
Fiji
South Africa
Namibia
2. NZ
Argentina
Tonga
Samoa

This would be a 5-6 week engagement each year.

Good idea?

  • 26.
  • At 01:13 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ManofMunster wrote:

C'mon Alastair, you can't cite argentina's lack of quality cover at scrumhalf as a barometer of lack of strength in depth. How many world class outhalves did england (or ireland or scotland) have at this world cup? play jonny, you're in a world cup final; don't play jonny you get hockeyed 36-0 (and could've been worse) in a group game.

And as far as I know, playing numbers have actually decreased with professionalism in these parts so I wouldn't push a professional structure on a country that may not need it.

Argentina want to play in the 6 nations and they should be accommodated. Syd millar's comments about finding room for them in the tri-nations were disingenuous to say the least - his real intention was to highlight that the northern hemisphere calendar was too full to accommodate them - ie the french and english clubs wouldn't have it.

The IRB run the game - surely they need to restructure the whole NH season (it's not like it's running perfectly as it is) and accommodate argentina who on the basis of performances over the past 8 years have shown they deserve a spot ahead of scotland, italy, and on the basis of the past two months, ireland.

Stop pussy-footing around and let them in. Throw in georgia (or south africa) as well to balance it up.

The fans want it. Argentina deserve it. Mr Millar, do the right thing for once.

  • 27.
  • At 03:27 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Typical plonker comment from Rob (maybe NZ will struggle without all the Samoans that suddenly become Kiwis). If someone of Samoan descent lives in NZ and is part of the country in all other aspects- works there, votes as a NZer, receives welfare, pension etc, then why shouldn't they represent the country. No one ever seems to complain about the English sports teams being filled with ex pats from other countries, Kevin Pietersen, Allan Lamb, Graeme Hick, Robin Smith, Henry Paul, etc

  • 28.
  • At 03:42 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Brian Leslie wrote:

I have just driven 500 km. from Neuquen a city in the middle of Argentina where my team Old Green from Temuco, Chile was invited to participate in the 38th Argentine Veteran Rugby Tournament. There were 30 teams playing simultaniously on 4 pitches during two days , on saturday I managed to see the last 10 minutes of England between games and I was surprised to see the viewers clap and celebrate the final result. Yesterday the tournament came to a stand still to watch the Pumas match, they were looking forward to meeting England next week but after the first interception and try of the Springbox and later errors of handling there was silence and sorrow amongst the 800 veterans watching the match. The whole country had high expectations of being in the final.
We have a South American Tournament that has been played for many years involving Argentina,Uruguay,Paraguay and Chile. Argentina has always won it easy. They are in a different category.
I think they should play in the 3 Nations and include Fiji and Samoa to make it 6 nations Southern Hemisfere playing at the same time they play in Europe the 6 nations so as to not affect the clubs with their players.That will allow every year to see top a rugby tournament live in Buenos Aires Football Stadium and increase the Rugby level in the Southern Countrys of South America.

  • 29.
  • At 04:18 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • trif wrote:

i think what rob means is that new zealand may possibly lose some individuals when they feel that they could do well in the country of their birth.

i personally found it a little galling that during the height of world cup fever joe rocokoco was doing an add in new zealand for air pacific encouraging people to come to "my fiji"

how committed to new zealand is joe? not a jot, obviously. the black jersey has a lot to answer for, and pillaging the rugby heritage of the pacific islands is certainly included.

  • 30.
  • At 04:23 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • paulcedron wrote:

I found all the comments very interesting, and i have to thank everyone for thinking about including my country in either 6N or 3N.
Maybe our calendars don´t fit or we are far away from the other countries. But the main reason we will not be included in those prestigious tournaments is economical.
Maybe the TV broadcastings think Argentina is not a good business, and regarding the warm up match between Wales and Argentina at the Millennium Stadium, they are right.
The Millennium was almost empty that day and maybe the TV rating was too low.
I agree with that American Tournament. Canada and USA have the potential to become strong teams. And the winner can play with the winner of the 3N and 6N

  • 31.
  • At 04:39 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

The idea of having a southern hemisphere six nations is ridiculous. Could you imagine the carnage when the All Blacks play Tonga? It would be a joke, the ABs would put a ton on them every year. Im not sure if people around the world have been watching matches down under lately but performing well in the world cup is a different story to performing year in and year out. In world cup years teams such as Tonga and Fiji are able to solely focus on the world cup and have all of their players availible. This would not happen in the in between years as the will simply not be able to keep up with the ABs, the Wallabies and the Boks. It would be a massacre. I think they way they are doing things at the moment is fine. Whilst the pacific nations ooze natural talent they do not have the money or the population base to sustain it a high level of competitiveness every year. Stick to every four year and they will continue to do what they do, suprise. As for Argentina, something needs to be done. They have the population base and should have the clout to be competitive every year. The Tri Nations needs something new and Argentina is just what it needs, plus maybe at a push the Pacific Barbarians.

  • 32.
  • At 04:59 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Colin wrote:


I believe Argentinas natural place is in with the tri nations, the travel is easy to solve really.
I dont believe tonga,fiji or samoa should be included unless they enter as a combined team they arnt consistant enough on their own.
just for the record for those who care (which wont be many) i havnt watched my home team the all blacks in a tri nations game for over 3 years as the comp is so damn booooring the tri nations needs Argentina i believe more than Argentina needs the tri nations.

  • 33.
  • At 05:51 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

All the debate really highlights is what a state - fixtures-wise - that rugby is in. All Blacks rarely play club rugby - that's why they werent competition fit this WC. England never tour with a full strength squad and get well beaten. The IRB needs to have a chat with FIFA and make some big decisions and sort out an international season that is fair on players, the clubs and also allows for meaningful international competition. I mean do we really need a 6N every year? Perhaps we should just scrap it - the game has out grown the competition- and replace it with something better. Perhaps biannual european competitions? (That would leave eg a free year for meaningful tours).

  • 34.
  • At 07:02 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Please, please, please can something be decided this time. Its time to shake the old order up and invite these aspiring countries into the club. As a spectator I would love to have the Argentinians added to the Six Nations and the Pacific Islands to the Tri-Nations. How about a Mediterranean championship to bring in Romania, Georgia and Portugal to play with France and Italy? And in the mean time can the IRB please provide some money to enable a Pacific Islands Barbarians team to have a top flight coach, ref and opportunity to tour. Let's use this World Cup to create a platform for spreading the word that rugby is a passionate exciting game with a place for everyone no matter their size or speed.

  • 35.
  • At 07:07 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • adam wrote:

Why is Spain the only overseas 'home' touted for Argentina? Surely they could join the tri-nations and base themselves somewhere nearer the others. If they played home games in SA/namibia the Europe based players could compete easily - overnight flight and same timezone - and there would be no more travelling for SA/Oz as they'd play both Argentina and Sa on the same trip just as SA play both Oz/NZ on the same trip now.

Ideally I'd see a southern 5 nations playing each other once each, leaving each team with 4 games as in the current tri nations - either bringing in the winner of each year's pacific cup or possibly the pacific lions.

More importantly, Argentina seem to get most support for more competition from northern unions but the size of the 6N makes that unfeasible to join so the unions need to back it up by sending the B&I lions to Argentina in 2 years.

  • 36.
  • At 07:09 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • simonovichy wrote:

At last. Expert commentary on the issue that doesn't skip around the immense problems involved in active inclusion of Argentina in either major international tournament. There's too much comment above however than involves designing new tournaments that won't fly for reasons of (1) geography, (2) player location and (3) money, and often all three.

To claim Argentina are a one off is silly. They've made quarters before. The best solution to raising WC quality is for the IRB to identify key weaknesses in the Argentinian, Samoa, Tonga, Georgian and Fijian games and provide these countries with expertise to coaches and key players to raise levels. For Argentina and Georgia it is the running backline skills, for the PIs is in the scrums and lineouts.IRB money needs to go here, rather than into spectacular but ultimately unrealistic fantasies of new international tournaments.

  • 37.
  • At 07:09 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Brendan Shaw wrote:

As a bok Fan, I would like the Argiees in the tri-nations. However, Would the European clubs release those that are playing for them?

  • 38.
  • At 07:52 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

I support what Rob (2) wrote at 6.16. The Southern Hemisphere Tri-Nations needs to be expanded. Include Fiji and Tonga. Converge on a single country. Play each other once, top 2 go thru to a final, with places 3 and 4 playing for a trophy as well. Means you would not play many more games than the expanded tri-nations they experimented with a few seasons ago. And if the All Blacks are weakened because some of them wish to play for their own country. Tough.

  • 39.
  • At 07:53 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Henry wrote:

What a ridiculous piece of trallop Hignall has just written, a glaring argument just for the preservation of the status quo. Argentina need the confirmation and the impetus that they can play on the big stage at a regular level. So therefore I think admission to the 6 Nations will be perfect, it will provide the Argentinians with the extra revenue and competition to kickstart the game back home. Look at Italy, they won next to nothing for their first few years in the competition yet it improved exposure and knowledge of the sport and I think now Italian rugby is definitely on the way up.

Argentina definitely need to gain admission to the 6 Nations, no ifs or buts.

  • 40.
  • At 07:58 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Japan, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and a Australia and New Zealand 'A' team already play in a Pacific Nations cup so there will be no need to expand the tri nations with these teams.

  • 41.
  • At 08:07 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bull wrote:

"There is a theory that the Tri-Nations, involving just Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a seemingly endless and monochromatic series of matches, could do with an injection of new blood."

You just described the 6N.

  • 42.
  • At 08:07 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy K wrote:

For all those people talking about a second tier 6 nations, this already exists and has done for some years.

http://www.fira-aer-rugby.com/competition_detail.php?compet=91&gpement=770

This is division 1 including the likes of Portugal/Georgia. There is also division 2A, 2B, 3A,B,C,D.

What is needed is some television revenue to increase the incomes of all the second tier nations.

Incidentally Switzerland in division 3A recently played Armenia. The match was played in France, because this is where most of the Armenian players are playing.

  • 43.
  • At 08:26 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon Gwilliam wrote:

Woah woah woah sweet child of mine. Let's get a few things straight. Argentina are a very good side, remarkably so all things considered, but where's all this talk of them find "6-nations rugby beneath them". Yes, they beat France in the opening game - but it's France - nothing is certain. True, they also beat Ireland - but that was a crushed, demorilised Ireland that clearly had a number of behind-the-scenes problems we don't know about. They then proceeded to beat Scotland in the QF. So why is it that so many of you on here are convinced that should Argentina join the 6-nations, they would win hands-down year upon year? I think they would struggle against France and England, and, providing they sort themselves out and played like they did in the last 6-nations, Ireland too. I would even go as far as saying that Wales and Italy could give them a fright too.

I say, let them in the 6-nations; it'd be more balanced than you think.

Simon

  • 44.
  • At 08:31 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David de Jong wrote:

The suggestion that the Pumas play in the 6 Nations or even the Tri Nations, whilst solving one problem avoids the main one of the global game.
I've been punting the concept of an Americas/Canadian Tournament for a while now as the best way to grow the game.
What most people are missing is the fact that the Heineken cup and S14 underpin the 6 and Tri Nation tournaments in those regions.
A similar structure in the Americas would help to strengthen the clubs and attract more money to the game in the form of sponsorships and TV coverage. This in turn will allow the Americas clubs to attract more players currently playing in Europe and help to establish the game in the region.
Sure, rugby will remain a minority sport in the region, but it is in every country except New Zealand. When you consider the numericaly tiny number of rugby supporters that make the S14 and Tri Nations financially attractive and viable then an Americas competition shouldn't be that difficult to maintain.

  • 45.
  • At 08:32 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mutt wrote:

If Argentina are allowed to join the 6N competition, what message does this give to the smaller european nations like Romania and Georgia "Sorry we're not letting you in because you won't make enough money"?

How much of a kick in the teeth for Spanish players if they never get the chance to play regular rugby against their continental neighbours because a bunch of foreigners are in their place?

If we are going to expand european rugby, we must expand with european nations first.

The US and Canada already have a domestic cross-border club competition - 2 teams each. It's surely not too much of a stretch for Argentina to create two similar "super" teams to compete with them and institute an Americas-Tri-Nations.

As for cries of "But their players play over here!" that is a mercenary decision made by the players, forced upon them by their own Union.

The game, for better or worse, is now professional. If Argentina want a place at the top table they have to play by the same rules as everyone else. By all means give them help and assistance, but you cannot make exclusions and special rules for them or any other country.

  • 46.
  • At 09:00 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Julian wrote:

Argentina in the 6N would help the current participants up their standards. NZ, Oz and SA would be the losers if this were to happen. Relegation, apart from the fact that none of the current 6N teams would go for it, would encourage teams to be even more conservative than they already are for fear of relegation.

Rugby clubs wouldn't be too happy about another week of International competition and releasing yet more of their players. This would mean they would hire less Argentines, meaning less professional opportunities for Argentines. This in turn would weaken their national team.

A professional league in Argentina would be a good idea to promote competition, but how about central contracts to avoid rugby following the path of football, where the clubs have too much power. Argentina deserves top level competition. If I were an Argentine I'd want to play NZ, SA and Oz, but they're even less accommodating than the 6N. I'd also want to play some games at home to promote the game internally.

A Lions tour is a nice idea, but the only competitive games would be the test matches, which makes a tour a bit of a non-starter.

Compromises will need to be made somewhere. Good luck Argentina (from an Englishman)

  • 47.
  • At 09:10 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Duncan74 wrote:

Firstly, great to see a sensible debate on this issue.

Lets start with the key to this, the players. As it is then the move to proffessionalism in the game has lead to a massive increase in the injury rates of players, and increasing the number of games played can only increase that further. The talk of adding games into the 'autumn international' window is dubious, as this is already a cause for concern for the clubs that provide the wages and majority of medical and coaching costs. Ditto adding another week into a '7 nations' would leave clubs playerless for longer.

Am I afraid that Argentina would come in and win the 7 nations? Not afraid, but would relish the challenge (I personally don't think it would be that clear cut). I also totally see the issues regarding the travelling in the tri-nations, although that could somewhat be reduced by playing single games and adding in another team to make it a 5 nations.

All this talk of NZ hammering any new teams and so they shouldn't be included is daft. The same was said about Italy in the 5/6 nations, and after 2 seasons then the benfit of their inclusions showed through clearly in the results.

The 2 tier 6 nations does sound interesting, although I think the risk there is that a funding gulf would rapidly appear between the first and second tier (as is already clear from the european nations cup) and that could result in yo-yoing of teams up and down, and not the development of the game that is intended.

Alan Jennings (No.7) has a great idea. However, I have a couple of concerns : Would this lead to too much international rugby ? Can the smaller unions afford the travel expense ? Would the stadia be full ?

I wonder wether a European Rugby Knockout cup might not be a better starting point - 16 teams play in a straight knockout tournament in the summer every two or for years (although not in an RWC year of course).

The 6 nations plus 2 others could be seeded so as not to meet each other to start with (although I also like the idea of a draw so that anyone can meet anyone, much like the FA cup in football).

This also means that, since the winners would only play four matches it would not be too debillitating for the players, and that it would not take too long - three weeks would allow for a weeks' rest between rounds.

Finally, it would give all the european nations (well, 16 of them) experience of knockout rugby.

  • 49.
  • At 09:25 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Stewart wrote:

Why is no one looking at an American cup.

This could feature Canada, America, Rgs, uraquay.

  • 50.
  • At 09:35 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

#7 Alan Jennings

Great idea.

  • 51.
  • At 09:39 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ross H wrote:

I think the next logical step would be for the British & Irish Lions to play their next tour in Argentina. The test matches would be the least the Pumas deserve after their showing at the World Cup and I actually think they could easily whitewash the Lions on the form they have shown.

  • 52.
  • At 09:41 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Colin Mitchell wrote:

I thought Alan Jennings comments were spot on...

It has been too long a topic of conversation among my friends and I. We believe strongly that there has to be a tiered system for international rugby to progress and now is the perfect time to capitalise, with the success stories of the World Cup. Trust me being half Irish and half Scottish the biggest success was pretty hard to take at times.

I agree most strongly with the idea that there is a period of grace (possibly until the next World Cup) where there is no promotion or demotion between the two European Divisions. This is only fair on the newer countries, as Alan said, it would take time to come up to this level of regular competition.

Anyway we can only hope that this oppertunity is not lost, but I'm not holding my breath. What is needed and good for the sport and what the powers that be deem appropriate are too often poles apart.

  • 53.
  • At 09:41 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • MBV wrote:

Enough of the nonsense. Its a fallacy. Look at the numbers before spouting more drivel...

There are more NZ born players playing for Samoa in the World Cup (12), than Samoan born players playing for the All Blacks (5).
If we kept them totally separate, it is more than likely that Samoa etc would lose out.

But the world doesn't work like that.
And consider that guys like Mils Muliaiana and Joe Rokocoko both moved to NZ for family/economic reasons before the age of 5 and that ALL of their schooling and rugby development has been in New Zealand.
They are now Kiwis with Island heritage (which they are understandably still proud of - hence the Fiji advert that Rokocoko was in).
They deserve to be available for selection for the All Blacks.

Like George Gregan for Australia (Zambian born) and the other 4 non-Aussie born players in the squad. Or Mike Catt (SA born) and the other 3 non-england born players in the english squad.
Or the Italian squad with their 10 foreign born players.

Surely it is the same rules for all...why pick on the All Blacks?

  • 54.
  • At 09:43 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

how about have 8 teams in a new look 6 nations, to include the original 6, argentina, plus the winner of european nations cup. Split these into two groups of 4 (A and B), so each team will play 3 games in the group stages. Then have 1A vs 2B and 2A vs 1B, with the winner playing for the title and the 3 vs 4th. Then you can have 3A vs 4B and 3B vs 4A sorting out places 5-8, with the bottom placed team being replaced by the next winner of the european cup.

This format would only result in 5 games so could be played during the same time frame as the current 6 nations, while allowing teams to play better and more competative rugby!

  • 55.
  • At 09:45 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

The Pumas have 400 pro players around the world? Blimey - that's more than the Celtic nations combined!!

  • 56.
  • At 09:52 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ben Wooly wrote:

RE -Duncan post 27.
You really are very badly informed. The S.African Players came to play in England because of Aparthied (Smith, Lamb etc..), lack of opportunity due to race related selection politics (KP) and in Pauls case due to politics that he could only play for his country if he was in the Super 12 even though good enough and settled in Europe.
From travelling the S.Pacific it was clearly evident that the Islanders see playing for the All Blacks as reaching the pinnacle, much like the Lions used to be. The question is how they would feel and act if their countries were given greater funding, coaching and playing time on the large stage?

  • 57.
  • At 09:57 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Doug Cairns wrote:

While Argentina record indicates that
they do perhaps deserve regular games against the established nations let us not forget their performance in this years WC. It was boring and one dimensional. It was just a case of "we can kick it further than you". OK you play to win and that was there strength. When it did come to moving the ball their inadequacies were clearly exposed. Take away their tears at the national anthems and they left me cold. I would not pay money to watch them in any tournament.

  • 58.
  • At 09:59 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ifan wrote:

#7 Alan Jennings
Nearly a good idea, but there is already a second-tier equivalent in Europe with about 5 divisions suffering relegation/promotion (as mentioned by #13 Simon). The problem is that there is no incentive above beating Romania/Georgia. I say that we need 5/6 divisions of 6 teams in a pyramid system with immediate promotion available to the "Super league" aka "not so super 6Nations". Argentina (Ithink) should be in the European competition. If a home nation side were to be relegated twice then so be it...they'd deserve it. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!

IRB are setting up a lot of tournaments but they don't seem to be worth that much. The lesser teams need more incentives to up their game. Immediate promotion from ENC to the 6N, and as #7 said - joining Pacific Islands competition with 3N would be a start (the Pacific Ocean competition could include US, Canada, Japan, Korea, Uruguay, Chilie etc and be introduced in a 2nd tier).

  • 59.
  • At 10:06 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Grabyrdy wrote:

Good analysis, wrong conclusion. Argentina must become part of the Tri-Nations, which whould be widened and opened up at the same time along the lines suggested by many contributors above (if NZ and Oz had a wider competition, rather than just playing each other all the time, they may well have done rather better in the WC, so it's to their benefit too). Problems of amateurism and players in Europe will sort themselves out with time, but only once the step has been taken, not before.

  • 60.
  • At 10:08 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

As a Rugby fan, living in the UK I fail to understand why some nations (and here I'm referring to Wales and Scotland primarily) seem to have an automatic right to compete at the highest levels. Wouldn't it make sense to have to play for your place. On Current form Wales might struggle to beat the Pumas, as Scotland did, but wouldn't this help all the nations involved. Competition is the stone that sharpens the blade after all. I'd also like to take this opportunity on congratulation the French for a marvelous tournament.

  • 61.
  • At 10:12 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

ha.....y'all seem to forget Georgia with Argentina for an 8 nations....

Georgia is an up and coming rugby nation that is 'european' If Israel can be in the EBU (European Broadcasting Union for those not sure!) for the Eurovision and European footbal championships, why not Geogia? They ARE in the European Football groups...

They play mostly in France. Don't mock this please....remember those who scoffed Italy at the time? Scotland have learnt to their cost... And the Georgians gave us Irish a real scare. Given a few years experience , they could become a force. And what could it do for the sport there?

Yes, bring in Argentina as well, based (why not) in Brussels or Spain (Language)
There is no point in putting Argentina in an American league..they are way too strong. Are the 6 nations scared of eventually being bettered by emerging nations???

Yes, Georgia and Argentina for an 8 nations....

  • 62.
  • At 10:12 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • henryhomann wrote:

Maybe there is need for more coordination in the NH/SH calendar, as FIFA does. Then it wouldn't be an issue for players to travel around. The SANZAR distances are already huge, maybe you could have the competition held every other year in NZ/Aus and SA/Arg.

Going the pro way might not be a good idea in argentina. rugby is not as popular as football so it wouldn't generate as much income for tv rights or sponsors. only the pumas fill a stadium. The important thing is to identify talent and then take them to the next level, maybe by having a team with domestic players only that tour around.

  • 63.
  • At 10:14 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Looking at the comment by the gentleman in Number 12 - I was just thinking of the same idea when I read his article. I think he is spot on.

The only variation I was thinking of was to have 2 pools of five teams for the current 6N. The winners of each pool would then play off in the final and the pool runners up have a 3rd/4th play off (for the next year's seeding).

This would then allow the majority of teams to return players to clubs earlier or to have extra training time. It would also fit with the current international window. My pool make up would be something like this (although it could be seeded and changed each year):

Pool 1:
England
South Africa
Ireland
Italy
Georgia

Pool 2:
France
Argentina
Wales
Scotland
Portugal

The SH tournament would be NZ, OZ and Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

This would give Argentina and SA better time zones. It would give Portugal and Georgia the chance to grow rugby. It would give Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Argentina the tournaments they deserve.

  • 64.
  • At 10:15 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tim Jackson wrote:

Re: Aland Jennings

I'm not sure why everyone is praising you, suggesting Argentina join an American/Asian league is ridiculous. For a team who are 4th in the world to be playing in the secondtier is a stupid suggestion. Imagine if Australia had to play in a competition featuring Korea, Japan or Canada.

Logistically for Argentina, yes, it makes more sense for them to play in an American/Asian league (although Korea and Japan are hardly close) but in rugby terms it'd be a complete mismatch offering Argentina no way of improving, for that they need to be playing against teams of the same tier, logistically again, however, this will be near impossible to achieve.

If pushed to support an idea already proposed on here it'd be that Argentina join the six nations but have the first half of the competition in the Autumn, and the second half during the normal period. This, though, also has its obvious disadvantages regarding club players on international duty etc. although reducing the number of autumn friendlys and replacing them with more cup games isn't the worst idea in the world.

On a separate note Fiji, Samoa and Tonga should form a 6 nations with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa as each team has shown they can peform to the highest standards, plus it makes sense logistically (I've used that word enough now).

  • 65.
  • At 10:16 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Adam Henderson wrote:

Since there is already a second tier 6 Nations in Place. Why not have the winner of the this join the existing 6 nations plus argentina to form a Super 8?

But divide the tournament into two pools and have an actual final to decide the winner. With a cross-over between the top two pools playing off for a place in the final.

This format would be the same length of the existing 6 nations and would make for a guaranteed winner each year and not to mention a final and two semi finals with huge TV marketing potential.

Everbody wins!!!

  • 66.
  • At 10:16 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Straight up honesty, I'm Australian.

I would LOVE to see Argentina play in the tri-nations. I think it would be fantastic. But I do think that the travel element makes it extremely unlikely.

This is something Europeans often fail to understand, because their nations are so close together. I had an English friend come over who couldn't understand why we didn't just get a ferry to New Zealand, not comprehending that it's about 8 hours by plane. South Africa is even further again, and in the other direction. Argentina and South Africa are one almost the exact opposite sides of the world.

The Pacific Islands are too weak. They play regularly against Australia A and New Zealand Maoris and get beaten soundly every time. They are not yet of a standard to be regularly competing against the tri-nation teams, which are still the strongest teams in the world.

The problem is that Argentina is far stronger than their neighbours. I'd love to see them play tri-nations regularly, but I'm just doubtful about the feasability of such an option.

  • 67.
  • At 10:17 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • pete c wrote:

I agree they have been wonderful in playing rugby in the true spirit of the game ie as band of brothers who stick together no matter winning or ultimately losing. The game probably really needs to go proffessional in argentina but they must put appropriate structures in place not just throw money at it, learn from the mistakes we in Europe have repeatedly made ie the club v country rubbish, this would slightly sadly mean we lost the romanticism of the talented passionate amateurs that they so clearly are !! But they def do warrant inclusion I think in the tri nations as the six nation is a bit full up but even the 6 nations would benefit from their lively and vigorous input. They would be no push overs for any team on current form. Let us hope the power brokers in the IRB have the bottle to get on with helping them in a really tangible way, they are an aexample of why so many of us love to play and watch rugby. I am a 36 year old slightly overweight insde centre who captains a local totally amateur team and i still just love to play.

  • 68.
  • At 10:22 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cayman_Haines wrote:

While I agree with Alan Jennings in principal, having Argentina playing in such a weakened competition seems pointless. It's their performances against big competition teams that has created this debate, so to fob them off with lesser teams seems a bit insulting. They'd set the World Record for consecutive Grand Slams!

The idea of basing Argentina in Spain for an expanded 7 Nations looks the best option. The language and cultural ties are same and this could eventually boost Spanish rugby. I concede that a lop-sided tournement is not ideal, but think back a few years to the 5 Nations...

For those that like even numbers, we could always bring in Georgia to create an 8 nations, but they would no doubt struggle as Italy did for so long.

I disagree with including SA in the 6(7)(8) Nations as I feel this would act as an unofficial World Cup and devalue both competitions. They also don't have teh geographical player ties to European clubs to the same extent of Argentina.

This is not to say that annual competitions between emerging nations should not occur. Churchill Cup etc goes some way to encouraging North American rugby.

Finally, Tri-Nations should be encompass the Pacific nations. This would set up mouth watering clashes of style when meeting the European sides - amongst many, more important reasons!

  • 69.
  • At 10:28 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • brian wrote:

Argentina have been getting the dirty end of the stick for a generation now and I somehow doubt if anything much will change now. It's a minor miracle that Argentina have been consistently able to put out competitive sides for years given the lack of interest the rugby powers that be have consistently shown in a country whose sole merit is that it produces outstanding players and isn't much of a commercial proposition (though the major powers were pretending Argentina didn't exist even in the days when the world game was nominally amateur). I suspect the powers that be will go on making friendly noises but hide behind established media contracts to play the issue long in the hope that the current Puma side will break up due to retirements and that their replacements will struggle.

Within my memory rugby has fumbled this sort of issue on a regular basis. I seem to be about the only person who remembers that Romania were a very good side in the 1970's/80's (good enough to beat the Rives/Bastiat/Skrela French Grand Slam team of 1977- I was living in France at the time) and were stronger than Italy were when they were finally allowed grudging admittance to the 5N. Admittedly there were non-rugby issues connected with a sport promoted by the Ceaucescu regime and dominated at club level by the Securitate side Dinamo Bucarest but it was hard to avoid the suspicion that the real reason no invitation to join the 5N was forthcoming was that there was no money in playing Romania. Similarly Canada were a decent side in the early 90's but were allowed to flounder when professionalism came in. The brute reality is that the present situation suits the economic interests of the major NH and SH countries well enough. Any attempts to find meaningful competition for Argentina and the Pacific Islands would require a total re-think of the structures of rugby at club/district level in the NH (and possibly in Australia and NZ as well) and open up all sorts of club v country issues. It might even raise the awful question of whether professionalisation was a ghastly mistake which has done huge damage to the infrastructure of rugby below the international and near-international level- and I can't see anybody in the IRB wanting to look that sort of question squarely in the eye.

I'd love to see Argentina (and the Pacific Islanders for that matter) get a regular berth in a proper competition- they've deserved one for years- but I have a nasty feeling it won't happen because the kind of steps which would be required to bring this about would mean a degree of good old fashioned income redistribution away from the current "haves" who can be trusted to fight to the death to defend their income.

  • 70.
  • At 10:30 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • NR wrote:

Hang on a minute, was the World Cup not invented for the purpose of bringing teams such as Argentina into major competition? Now they want into all of our other competitions too even though their team is really composed of European players! If you were the WRU or the SRU would you not be thinking that it's all well and good wanting to develop rugby in far-flung countries all over the globe but really we need to invest in our own game primarily. In any case I think fans would find that the 6 Nations would lose its character by having Argentina. After all, it's about "local" rivalry. Even matches versus Italy don't have the same spark.

If you want to keep expanding all these tournaments why not just have the World Cup every year? Otherwise the solution is a set of "local" tournaments.

  • 71.
  • At 10:33 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Reda Hmeid wrote:

Why not a complete overhaul of world rugby? We have two major competitions (6 and tri nations) and increasing these cause the problems mentioned in this article. The aim is to ensure all the rugby nations get to play more meaningful rugby? Thereby increasing the quality and competition.

It's a radical idea, but how about creating a 2 year qualifying campaign that includes ALL the nations of the world. There aren't enough teams to run it as a European football qualifying campaign, but it can very easily be run in a similar fashion to South American qualifying.

So you would have two groups, consisting of Northern Hemisphere nations in one group, with, say the top 5 qualifying by rights and the bottom 6 or 8 playing in a series of knockout matches. 10 teams from the northern hemisphere. The same can be done in the south. This ensures every team in world rugby get meaningful games against the top sides.

Who remembers how England used to kick Turkey's butt in football? Now it's seen as a real test, because Turkey had a chance to grow.

I know, not so radical, but bloody sensible, no?

  • 72.
  • At 10:37 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • joe rokokoko wrote:

as already said an american cup is already in place and argies win it every year, they have earned the right to play with the big boys.

the post about adding argies and suid afrika to 6N made most sense to me. the argies all play in europe so could be based in spain for example, while SA have the same time zone as europe.

scrap the meaningless autumn internationals and play some of the 8N matches then so as not to increase the number of weeks the players are away from their clubs.

that would be a mouth-watering competition, but it would leave NZ and Oz out in the cold. then again its only one less team than the current tri-nations, and perhaps it would encourage the big 2 down there to help the islanders develop their game so they can set up a competitive regional tournament down there (obviously the big 2 would dominate for first few years, but those island teams have the natural talent and could get better with some help and playing the big boys regularly just like italy have done).

  • 73.
  • At 10:37 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

what about a 2 tier competition with leagues made up of 6 teams each loosely based on performances during the world cup

1
England
South Africa
France
Argentina
Scotland
Figi

2

Australia
New Zealand
Wales
Ireland
Samoa
Tonga

  • 74.
  • At 10:40 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robster wrote:

I do feel sorry for Argentina, and feel they would be such a force (as if they aren't already) if they could get regular to qulaity competition. The suggestion is that they join the six nations and are based in Lisbon or Madrid is a good one, however I favour a complete re structure of the Tri nations to accomodate them and either the best of the Island teams who could ahve a mini qulaification tournament first or a combined Island team. If we are going to make Rugby a global game then we cant have Australia, New Zealand and South Africa ignornig their SH "neighbours." Argentina deserve to be treated better.

  • 75.
  • At 10:44 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • sports matter wrote:

Whatever the solution, dates, travel costs and clubs releasing players are not an issue. Besides the 6 and 3 nations, we also have the summer and autumn internationals each year when almost everyone tours for 2 or 3 matches. These are often half-baked semi-competitive games with teams fielding experimental sides, so adding a bit of a competitive edge would make the matches far more interesting.
I would scrap the old school 6 and 3 nations, bring in Argentina, plus two others (Samoa, Tonga, Georgia...) and have a 12 nations played over 2 years, with the bottom two countries replaced by two new nations every 2 years, elected on whatever system is seen fit.
That would mean 5 or 6 competitive internationals a year per nation. Hardly too much to ask.

  • 76.
  • At 10:45 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • William wrote:

The Puma's have been brave in this World Cup and yes, Pichot's comments must be taken seriously by the IRB for the game of rugby to expand. Argentina has made this truly a global game.

  • 77.
  • At 10:49 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • paolino wrote:

I think 6N should be extended to 7 including Argentina because all arg.players stay in Europe.
The 3N should be extended to 4 including Pacific Islands hoping that kiwis stop to steal their best players. 2 years ago Lauaki (a very good nr.8) played for the islanders not for all blacks.

  • 78.
  • At 10:55 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Henry Wade wrote:

Why not create the 8 nations?

- Two groups of 4 - 3 games each per group.
- Top two go through to the semis.
- Winners of the semis meet in the finals.

It would reduce the tournament to 5 match days and allow for a more competitive sequence of games.
Start with the basic 6 plus, say, Argentina and Georgia.

You could even have a play off between the bottom teams of each group to have a promotion/relegation aspect allowing for Romania or even Belgium or Spain to get their act together.

The main issue would be the current 6 not wanting to miss out, but it would benefit both the tournament and the lesser teams - allowing the minnows to get a few games against the IRB founders and top dogs.

What do you think?

(I have just seen that someone suggested something similar - so basically I agree it would work!)

  • 79.
  • At 10:56 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David de Jong wrote:

For me the main problem in having Argentina playing in a European competition is that it concentrates world rugby in one continent, when the aim is to spread the game. What will be next, let's also include Canada and the USA in order to strengthen their rugby?
South Africa and NZ are already feeling the effect of their players being drawn into Europe and undermining the strength of their provincial and S14 sides. The object of any changes should be to build the game and competitiveness in the players country of origin, not assist Europe in becoming the home of rugby, as has happened with soccer.
If Argentina is allowed into an expanded 6 Nations, then it's clubs should also be included in the Heineken Cup, also on a home and away basis.

  • 80.
  • At 11:16 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Niall Turnbull wrote:

I agree with the idea of a 2 tier european nations format. But here is an idea. Instead of splitting it into 2 leagues why not this idea. The top 4 finishing teams in 6N qualify automatically for next season. The bottom 2 (or 3 teams if argentina included) should play against the top 2 teams from the 2nd division of European teams to qualify for next seasons 6nations. This would help expose and enthuse new european teams such as portugal spain russia belgium. This would negate the problem of only 1 teams getting promoted.

  • 81.
  • At 11:22 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Stepping up to play full international matches on a regular basis for teams like Portugal is not really on the cards just yet is it. Regrettably they are just not up to it. Based on results against the NZ Maoris and Australia A amongst others the Samoans, Tongans and Fijians are not quite there yet either to compete (in the 15 a side game at least) against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

So is there an interim step that could work? Well yes there probably is. The second tier European nations could play in an expanded Heineken Cup competition. The Samoans, Tongans and Fijians could put a national team each into an expanded Super 14/15/16 or however many it has become these days.

The advantage of this solution is that the TV exposure, which a number of the correspondents have indicated is a prime requirement for funds to benefit these countries, is already in place.

However, this does not address the Argentinian question.

Alistair Hignall argues that the Argentinian players are recruited by European clubs as cover for their European colleagues' disappearance for international 6 Nations commitments. Apart from the obvious slight on the merits of players such as the Contepomi and Fernandez Lobbe brothers to name but a few I think an obvious point is missed here. If the economics of recruiting these players is removed they are not going to be lost to the game or even to Europe but they may be lost to the big clubs who instead may be tempted to develop young local players. And where will these Argentine players go to? Maybe they will play for some other club in say the Guinness Premiership or the Celtic League. Maybe this will balance up the ability of some of the perennial strugglers to compete with the Leicesters and Munsters and Toulouses of the European game. Would this be good for the Argentinain players? Well, if all they are doing is playing when their international colleagues are away then, de facto, they are not playing against international players so if they turn out regularly for medium clubs rather than sporadically for top clubs then yes it probably will benefit them.

Therefore, offer Argentina a place in the 7 Nations, let one international team have a break each week just like they used to before Italy joined the old 5 Nations and let the market determine where the players of the 4th best international team finish up playing.

But most of all we must give the emerging nations a platform appropriate to their level so that they can showcase their development and bring on the game in their own countries.

  • 82.
  • At 11:43 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • rozmandua wrote:

Every 2 years in different countries as hosts.

Pool One

France
England
Wales
Romania
Portugal

Pool Two

Argentina
Ireland
Italy
Scotland
Georgia

Top two go through. Qualifiers done year before for small teams. Could then have 6 nations done every other year.

With a host country, could play tournament with Fiji, USA, Tonga, Samoa, Canada. Winner qualifies for tri-nations??

Seems a bit stupid.

  • 83.
  • At 11:46 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

The Question of the Tri-Nations logistics being too difficult to overcome the solution is easy. Just add argentina to make it 4 nations and hold the new 4-nations in one country rotating every year between the four countries involved. The competion would last 8-9 weeks with matches on Sat and Sun...like a mini world cup,Problem solved.

  • 84.
  • At 12:15 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • stuart mack wrote:

answer multiple 4 nations tournaments,

Engalnd, France, Argentina, Ireland.

Wales, Scotland, Italy, Georgia.

Portugal, Holland, Geramny, Spain.

etc etc.

IGNORE Where I have put the teams the princple is one team relegated, one team promoted, and offers the opportunity for really hard games to teams of similar levels.

  • 85.
  • At 12:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

The first problem is that Argentina must start playing professional Rugby. It has been suggested that some of the Argentinean states (kind of like League's State of Origin) play in a Club style competition against Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Eg Buenos Aires play Santa Cruz & Tierra Del Fuego, Cordoba plays Chile, Uruguay against Mendoza. Obviously some of the Argentine provinces eg Chaco & Formosa and Missiones would have to amalgamate to become a Northern Argentinean team. But you would have a mini Heineken Cup with the added rivalry of the Country teams thrown in, which would be great for viewing figures.

Secondly internationals, the Tri-nations are too far spread out even if New Zealand were willing (which they're not for reasons other than the travel problems). The only option is Europe. I think there has been some great ideas on a two tier 6 nations. The added advantage of this is that there wouldn't be any more games. Although there would be the risk of Argentinean players not being picked up by European clubs it would bring endless prestige to the European clubs to have Argentinean stars playing in a competition watched by their fans. Central Contracts would solve this problem with the added advantage that Argentina could insist on 30% of their players plying their trade in Argentinean club Rugby.

  • 86.
  • At 12:45 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

It is unfair to throw stones at a system that has in the past few weeks been held up as a model of where Wales and Scotland's desperately shambolic setups should be looking to get to; i.e. a wholly amateur domestic league, with the best players competing in England, France, and Ireland.

It is not just Argentina who may struggle once their current players retire. If Ireland's 'golden generation' cannot even escape the group stages, what change do they have in future? Scotland only just managed to progress thanks largely to the Italians tactical ineptitude - a mistake that I'm sure they will not repeat - and Wales, with their own brand of schoolboy rugby, were never at the races.

It is time we looked at a teired Five Nations before the competition stagnates (maybe getting the USA and Canada involved also), with promotion/relegation, possibly comprised initially as follows:

Division 1
England
France
Argentina
Ireland
Scotland

Division 2
Wales
Italy
Romania
Canada
Georgia

Division 3
Russia
USA
Spain
Portugal
Belgium

Also, the Tri-Nations should be expanded somehow to include Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Japan. Maybe a tiered system is possible here also, with the inclusion of NZ Maori, Australia 'A' and South Africa 'A', to bring it up to ten. Of course they would have to stop playing home and away, but I'm sure they would cope.

  • 87.
  • At 12:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • pichi+6 wrote:

The amateur structure for domestic (club) rugby works fine for argentina as a source of talent. What the UAR has to set is a provincial profesional league in order to get players full time and available for a national competitive side.
Regarding the position of ARgentina in the world it was always difficult. We were under achievers in WCups, but doing very well in test rugby. In the 80's and 70's there were massive results. At the end of the 90s things pick up again with this group which is now showing what can be done. On top of that we fed Italy with pl;ayers for decades, includin Diego Dominguez to name one.

  • 88.
  • At 12:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Gall wrote:

After a wonderful time spent in St Etienne and Paris supporting Scotland I really don't care anymore! This has nothing to do with the excellent 2007 RWC and the wonderful reception put on in both cities, this is all down to the totally over the top, bias and uninformed commentry that ITV have given us!! I really do hope that the South Africans steam roll England on Saturday night!!! And believe me on this one, this is not an England/Scotland thing this is purely for my entertainment value on seeing and hearing these so called commentators trying to explain it all. YA BOKA.....!!!!

  • 89.
  • At 01:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Munster Fan wrote:

Perhaps a completely radical restructure of the northern hemisphere game is required, anything to prevent the tri nations getting their hands on the lovely old style but adventurous play of the Argentineans.

Include Argentina in the six nations, but hold it every two years. Firstly this will increase the importance of this competition, rather than having a yearly procession; the clubs will be less annoyed at their player’s disappearing off for 3 months at a time and maybe in the non-7 nations years the European Cup (which has shown that international rugby is not the be all and end all) will gain added impetus. (A yearly test between the EC cup winners and Super 14 winners!!!!! Hurrah!!!) Just a thought, really

  • 90.
  • At 01:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • kevin Higginson wrote:

I wrote after the last wordl cup to an international magazine stating that the sturcture of rugby international comps needed changing.

Argentina + Pacific islands into 5-nations that way Argies and best from pacific get to play top rugby, number of matches played by current 3-nations would not increase, (4 matches, 2 home 2 away).
For S-14 add a Buenos Aires team plus Tonga, Fiji and Samoa in an expanded S-18

As for NH - USA and Canada, Georgia, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Plus two other 2nd tier nations to enter HCup.

  • 91.
  • At 01:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • toby wrote:

the best idea i've heard to get the Argies involved is from a Kiwi friend of mine: Why not add them to the tri-nations but turn it into a mini knock-out tournament located wholly in one of the competing countries each year.

a round robin league, with 1 or 2 matches to decide which 2 teams compete in the final. This completely eliminates the problem of long distance travel and time-changes.

  • 92.
  • At 01:41 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Facundo wrote:

I don`t think that Argentina "need" to be part of the six nations, i think that we are ok the way we are, using other countries structures to our pro`s, and having a team that represents what we could be IF... The truth of my country is what i see every weekend at the fields, Pumas represents a dream that vanish when we talk seriously. I think that "last romatics" is not the argument to use when they are talking us about MONEY. That`s what`s all about. IRB Keep your circus the way it is. Argentina and Georgia are the contryes to suport today if you want to make the game global, but... tell me one reason to want that.

  • 93.
  • At 01:51 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Max Hardie wrote:

I agree with the 6N second tier concept with relegation and promotion (the last and the winner). Do Italy or Scotland deserve to play 6 Nations even when they play poor rugby? Why not getting Argentina and see what happens? If we (yes I'm an argie) end up last we get relegated and play second tier the following season, no problem with that. But I'm sure an England-Argentina or France-Argentina matches would be much better than the Italy ones. We have beaten France (5 out of last 6 times), England, Ireland (for the seconf time in WC), Scotland (last time we lost was 1990), Wales and of course Italy. We have beaten Australia and South Africa (playing as South America XV with 15 argies during apartheid) and even tied with the All Blacks (18-18). Don't we deserve to play 6N and raise the level (both our but also the rournament). I thing that England and France will still be the favorites, being Argentina at Ireland, Wales and Scotland level (if the latter improves).

  • 94.
  • At 02:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Felipe wrote:

Although I'm not much of a Rugby fan I'm really proud of the Pumas performance on this cup. I believe that having the opportunity of playing on any of these international cups would help our team to grow stronger and that would be better also for the rest of the teams because it would increase the overall level.
In my opinion it is not acceptable to allow geographic distance to ruin the efforts of our players. The IRB can work it out if they want to.

Personally I think its quite silly to think that the amateur structure is the only way to prevent rugby from having the same issues professional football has here. They are completely different sports with completely different fans and Rugby will always be on second place and that is also the biggest difficulty rugby has here in Argentina.

  • 95.
  • At 02:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • BrownandHairy wrote:

I have started a thread on the england board calling for the Lions to go to Argentina as the first leg of their trip to the SH. The lions could get battle hardened prior to arriving in destination. Going in 2009 would keep the rugby momentum going in Argentina and it would give the tri-nations/ 6nations some time to plan the permanent inclusion of argentina while giving the argentines some top quality high profile rugby between world cups. i am sure lions fans wouldn't mind trips to buenos aires. If this is successful, in future it could be used as a method of getting tonga/fiji/samoa top quality test matches.

  • 96.
  • At 02:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ed wrote:

Scrap the six nations and the tri nations, lets have a world cup every year.

  • 97.
  • At 02:22 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Grumpy Man wrote:

Sadly Doug Cairns #57 has called it right. Take away the romance of the passionate, unfashionable team doing well and what you are left with is a very boring and limited team over-achieving.

The best result for Argentina is to keep sending their top players to Europe to practice scrummaging and kicking against top class European opposition at club level every week. They will win their home tests against weakened touring teams, get the odd victory against full strength teams and suprise the 'fans' (who have never heard of Stade Français) every 4 years.

It's the best solution for everyone too, as that way we won't have to endure the dire rugby they play once the novelty has worn off!

  • 98.
  • At 02:23 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

I'm not sure why so many of the suggestions revolve around separating the northern and southern hemispheres. This is illogical - the major issues (putting politics and vested interests to one side) are distance and time zones rather than latitude!
I like Alan's idea above, but if the intention is to find meaningful competition for Argentina then perhaps South Africa should join the Six Nations and the Pumas join the Tri Nations, possibly with a combined Pacific Islands team?
Also, although many of the Argentinians do play in Europe I am not keen on them joining the 6N and playing in Spain. Seems disrespectful to Spain, who were in the last world cup after all. My suggestion would enable all teams to play at home - travel between Europe and SA is easy (not to mention the many expats) and the time zones would be minimally disruptive to the competition.
This would mean one team not playing each week in the 6N, but if you drop the rest week then it might be achievable.
A knighthood or Nobel prize to anyone in the establishment with the courage to do something!

  • 99.
  • At 02:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Sebastian Torres wrote:

We should have a "10 nations" with:

New Zealand
Australia
South Africa
Fiji
Samoa
Tonga
Argentina
Uruguay
Canada
USA

  • 100.
  • At 02:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • DJ wrote:

I agree with the idea of including Argentina in the 6 nations because, as we've all seen over the course of the world cup, they are worthy of inclusion. They beat France who were 6 Nation champions the last two years! However I don't agree with relegating a nation like Scotland, Wales or Italy from the tournement for a season if they play badly. An international teams form is too eratic for that plan to work; look at Wales 2 years ago grand slam champions and then the following years tournament they only won one game. And Scotland who only managed to beat Italy in 2005 and then the following year beat France and England! You can't relegate any team from the 6 nations because form chips and changes to much, particularly after a world cup year when all the youth breaks through.

  • 101.
  • At 02:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

I have very much enjoyed reading through these comments, some really good ideas some not. But what i read is passion from rugby fans wanting to expand rugby to all corners of the world (as it should be)same oppurtunity to development and compete regardless of the colour of the on shirt.

STOP DREAMING PEOPLE.

I work in buisness and see how every sport even my beloved rugby is totally ruled by sponsors tv and IRB, these people are not the fans described above they are business men paid vast amount of money. They do not care for our thoughts, our love for the sport, our dreams of global domination. We talked 4 years ago about development tournaments introducing countries to rugby. So four years on NOTHING.

Sorry we are bringing the next world cup to the shore of New Zeland that,s it IRB really bringing rugby to new cultures on that one. Japan would have done a much better job and rugby really cold have taken of in the far east/asia.

IRB voted for NZ why? The constant back scrarching form within the IRB the super powers constantly pushing out the little men. Never mind the insuffient grounds accomadation and most of the infanstructure of NZ to take a expected 25% increase in population next world cup.

I known money is a huge incentive and helps improve the game training etc etc, but it so much better than 15 years ago I known and still get the same feeling watching my counrty play then as I do now

SO ALAS

We will all return here in four years time giving our passion felt ideas on where Argentina should play tri nations or 6 nations now they are world champions and how well Georgia did reaching the semi's

Happy Dreams

  • 102.
  • At 03:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

The solution is easy: Argentina play in a new 7 nations basing themselves in Madrid where hundreds of thousands of argies have their home and will get their spanish friends interested in the game. Problem solved and the expansion of the game in the Iberian peninsula will be a very nice by-product.

  • 103.
  • At 03:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • sorcha wrote:

argentina should be in then tri nations instead of the 6n. the scheduale for the 6n teams as well as the domestic leagues is too tight to add any more teams to it at present but the sh teams could and should do it.

  • 104.
  • At 04:40 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • henryhomann wrote:

#97 get a grip. Overachievers? 2 of their players are in the best player shortlist.
All matches involving 2 top ten nations were tight and not very pretty. But then they were all nail-biting, anyone-can-win type of games.
Argies had 4 games against top ten and won 3. Aus and Nz only managed 1 relevant victory.

  • 105.
  • At 05:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • DJ wrote:

#104 yes thats all true but the Argentines did it playing boring rugby like England. Just hassling at the breakdown, slowing attacking ball down and sticking a high ball up every time they had possession! This is not were we want rugby to go. When Argentina tried playing attacking rugby for the first time (against SA) they got taken to pieces. Two interception tries given away and ALOT of dropped balls. They simply aren't good enough!

  • 106.
  • At 09:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • paulcedron wrote:

What nation is now playing "rugby champagne"?
England: NO
Scotland: NO
Wales: NO
Ireland: NO
France: NO
Italy NO!
Australia: NO
NZ: NO
SA: NO
Argentina: NO
Fiji, Tonga and Samoa: NO
So whats the problem with the way Argentina play?

  • 107.
  • At 09:49 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

#105 On the matter of Argentina playing "boring" rugby.. England are playing the most boring rugby i have ever witnessed, but they are in the final of the world cup. Do their fans care...NO! South Africa resorted to boring rugby to kill off Fiji in a game they could so easily have lost. Scotland are hardley seeting the world a light also, so why pick on the Pumas.

On the main topic of Argentina being included in 3/6 nations, it simply MUST happen. How can a team who is ranked #4, reached the semi's of the sports biggest competition be left out in the cold, while a team like Italy who have failed to get out of the pool stages of any world cup are getting regular top class competition.

I think the logistical excuse for not including them in the tri nations is ridiculous. Buenos Aires is closer to NZ than SA is to NZ. I havent heard any complaints from NZ about having to travel to SA.

If the IRB continue to snub them they may go the same way as Canada. Quarter Finalists in 1991, now bottom of their pool.

I think that the tri-nations should be reformed as a Southern 5 Nations, using a similar format as the Old 5 nations in Europe. The tournament would consist of:

NZ
Aus
SA
Arg
Fiji/Samoa/Tonga (The winner of a qualifying competition bestween these nations each year)

Each team would play each other once, alternating home fixtures every year. The games would be played in 5 consecutive weekends (Spanning just 4 weeks) during the month of August. One team would be idle each week, and this format would bring about the concept of the "Grand Slam", something that doesnt exist in the Tri Nations. I know that the Pacific Island nations have great problems getting full strength teams together for test matches as the English/French clubs dont release them but surely in this case it wouldnt be a problem as the European season would be over so all their best players could return home.

This would add some much needed spice to a pretty uninspiring competition.

Perhaps Japan could be added to the qualifying competition with the island nations. This wont reduce the standard of the 5 Nations as only the best team will qualify.

As far as the so called logistical problems are concerned, the fixtures can be easily scheduled to minimise the amount of travel needed. The All Blacks could play SA and Arg away in different years to cut down on the travel needed, and play this particular away game at the very end of the competition. These so called problems are not problems.

If rugby wants to move forward and become more global, this has to happen. Besides who wants to see the same 8 teams who have dominated the sport over the last 100 years over and over again. Sounds pretty boring to me. The exact same problem we have with Hurling in Ireland.

  • 108.
  • At 04:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

a southern 6 nations may make sense, or a new competition entirely. a competition for the nations around the pacific- the USA, Argentina, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji maybe?

  • 109.
  • At 09:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chopvac wrote:

One of the biggest arguments against having Argentina joining the Tri-Nations is travel, but that argument is predicated on teams being forced to travel constantly, week after week. If all four teams were to travel in a group and play on consecutive weekends in one country, it would minimize travel concerns and let all the teams host games. Consider:

Week 1 in Argentina
ARG v AUS
SA v NZ

Week 2 in Argentina
ARG v SA
NZ v AUS

Week 3 - off for travel

Week 4 in South Africa
SA v ARG
AUS v NZ

Week 5 in South Africa
SA v AUS
ARG v NZ

Week 6 - off for travel

Week 7 in Australia and New Zealand
NZ v ARG
AUS v SA

Week 8 in Australia and New Zealand
NZ v SA
AUS v ARG

The six games could be played in eight weeks, with two weekends off to allow for travel and time zone acclimation, and no travel between pairs of games. (New Zealand's and Australia's close proximity would mean Argentina and South Africa travel between those countries on consecutive weekends, but that's hardly a daunting trip.) Admittedly, it means one of the each team's three "home games" is in someone else's country and someone might have to play three consecutive home games, but it would minimize the wear and tear of travel and scheduling difficulties. Such a system could be easily rotated annually (year one starting in Argentina, year two in South Africa, year three in Australia and New Zealand), preventing it from becoming tedious (which is the big problem now).

It would allow fans to see all the teams play in their country on one weekend. Plus, fans who are travelling country to country could stay put for consecutive weekends, minimizing the number of flights and cost. It's simple, easily scheduled, and the only thing preventing it is who controls the money.

And if the Argentines do consider a pro league, just look at their neighbors: Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay are all ranked in the IRB's top 30. Put one team in each of their countries and three in Argentina and they could have their own super league with no language difficulty and four countries equal in size to Australia or the EU.

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