OpinionMonday, April 7, 2014
Problems with Super Rugby
An Argentine team has finally been admitted into the Super Rugby League as from 2016, but there are problems looming.
Former Pumas captain Agustín Pichot, who made the arrangements, explained the Argentine Rugby Union’s (UAR) plan of putting 18 players under contract for a start, including 17 of the Pampas XV which has just won the Pacific Cup, but six of them have found that their strictly amateur clubs in Buenos Aires (as well as the Buenos Aires Union, URBA) will not let them play if they have a contract with the UAR which would pay them 20,000 pesos a month. Therefore, four of them — Martín Landajo, Tomás Cubelli, Tomás Lavanini, Matías Moroni — said they would not accept contracts while the other two regretted that they needed the money.
Does that mean that the four players who would not sign contracts with the UAR would play for nothing if still picked for a national team?
Provincial clubs and their unions do not have this strictly amateur problem with their players and that is very likely one of the reasons why in the present national club championship, provincial clubs are largely outplaying those from Buenos Aires.
The UAR also wants to stop Argentines playing for other Super League teams and eventually wants to pick a squad of 30-40 players, but obviously those with European clubs would not be able to play in the Super League due to clash of dates. This would exclude such internationals like Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, whose European club contract covers 2016 and there are others who will prefer to continue earning more money in Europe, as well as living abroad.
More significant however is that the prohibition of including foreign-based players would eventually be extended to Argentina’s national team which, at the moment, is practically filled with players playing abroad.
As for the current national inter-club championship, the UAR is quite right in giving it its deserved importance by including more clubs (as was the case several years ago) and also wanting to make it the country’s most important club tournament. The idea is alright, but the time is wrong! While it may not be easy to find the right dates, playing it at the beginning of the season is not ideal. Teams cannot be at their best at a time when they usually play pre-season friendlies to start training to get into shape and at the same time some of their best players were missing on international duty with the Pumas XV and the International Sevens Series.