IRB urges patience with Pumas
December 1, 2010
Argentina's Santiago Guzman reaches for a lineout against Ireland last weekend © Getty Images
IRB head of development and performance Mark Egan has called for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to remain patient following the introduction of Argentina to the expanded Tri-Nations in 2012.
Since finishing the 2007 Rugby World Cup in third place the Pumas have undergone a transition, with only six wins in their last 18 Tests they have slipped to eighth on the IRB rankings.
Egan believes that entering the Tri-Nations would be a challenge for any team given the strength of the combatants and has urged SANZAR to get behind the Pumas.
"They are in transition. For any union to join a tournament where the top three teams in the world are playing is very daunting," Egan said. "We have been working with them. We have invested a lot of money in their domestic high-performance programme.
"It is going to be a medium-term process in getting these players through to professional rugby. It is going to be a big challenge but the Tri-Nations countries have opened their arms to it. I think there is a huge commitment there. The current arrangement is a four-year deal because it is based around the television contract.
"Yes [four years may not be enough]. The IRB want Argentina to stay in there. We don't own that tournament and the SANZAR partners have to look at that themselves. I firmly believe they are fully committed to making this work. We need to make this work. Everybody needs to make this work."
The IRB have helped Argentina set up regional high-performance centres and their 'A' team, the Jaguars, have played in the Churchill Cup and also recently South Africa's domestic Vodacom Cup competition.
"The Jaguars had 12 fixtures last year and the players are beginning to come through. They had two playing against Ireland last weekend," Egan said.
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