World Rugby must help stop southern player exodus - Greg Peters

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Australia's Drew Mitchell is tackled by Argentina flanker Pablo Matera
World Cup semi-finalists Australia and Argentina will renew hostilities at Twickenham on Saturday

The head of Argentine rugby says the financial might of clubs in Europe is the "biggest challenge" facing the sport in the southern hemisphere.

And Greg Peters believes World Rugby must find a solution to the player exodus from the south to the north.

"We can't compete with the money that's flowing around France, UK and Ireland at the moment," Peters said.

"At some stage everyone needs to sit around the table and work out what is good for the game going forward."

The New Zealander was previously chief executive of Sanzaar, the body that runs the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship and Super Rugby.

"There are conversations [at World Rugby] going on at the moment along those lines, [because] the pinnacle of the game has to be the international game, and we need to keep that strong," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Private ownership, as well as lucrative television and sponsorship deals - especially in France and latterly in England - have resulted in a large number of players moving from the southern hemisphere to the north.

And, while New Zealand and Argentina only pick players operating in Super Rugby - which means Racing 92 flyer Juan Imhoff is unavailable for the Pumas while he plays in France - South Africa and Australia have been forced to select those based overseas.

"Keeping our players in the south and playing for our national unions is our biggest challenge," Union Argentina de Rugby chief executive Peters added.

"To do that we really have to look at new territories, because we are capped out revenue-wise in our core territories - New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

"Argentina and the Americas as a whole are a growing base, so we need to keep exploring those territories so that we are competitive and maintain the success we have had in the south over a number of years."

Who are the big names from overseas playing in the Premiership this season?

Peters was speaking ahead of Saturday's historic Rugby Championship match between Australia and Argentina at Twickenham, the first time a game in the tournament has been staged in Europe.

About 50,000 fans are expected for what is a rematch of last year's thrilling Rugby World Cup semi-final, which the Wallabies won 29-15.

"It's a lucrative proposition for us to come to London and play in a massive stadium like Twickenham," Peters explained.

"We are hoping to nudge close to 50,000 people there on Saturday, so money comes into it, but it is more about bringing our brand back to a market where we had a large amount of success last year, and putting the Pumas brand on a world stage."

Peters believes Saturday's fixture could be a sign of things to come, but says forfeiting home advantage - which they have done this weekend - "is not something we will do every year".

"We wouldn't to do it too often - we want to play in front of our home fans - but this is an exciting one-off proposition. I'm sure we will have a vocal support base here in London," he added.

Meanwhile, Peters says Argentina hosting the World Cup in 2027 would take the sport to "another stratosphere" in South America.

World Rugby announced yesterday that Argentina have officially entered the bid process to host the tournament in 11 years' time.

"It would be massive for Argentinian rugby. The profile of rugby is lifting all the time [in South America], and that would certainly take it to another stratosphere," Peters continued.

For the latest rugby union news follow @bbcrugbyunionexternal-link on Twitter.

Top Stories