If Super Rugby doesn’t happen, there’s no sense in having Argentina in the Rugby Championship.” – Agustin Pichot.
Legendary scrumhalf Agustín Pichot says Argentina must get a Super Rugby team if they want to become better in the Rugby Championship.
The Pumas were thrashed 73-13 by the Springboks last weekend in the first game of their second season as part of the competition. They drew 16-all with the Boks in Mendoza last year but lost all five of their other games.
This weekend, they tackle the Boks in Mendoza again but any result bar a loss looks highly likely this time round.
In fact, Pichot – currently a UAR board member who works closely with SANZAR – sees them struggling for some time in the competition unless they can prepare their players better for the pace of Southern Hemisphere rugby.
“If you think about it, it’s taken a long time for Argentina to catch up with the rest of the world,” he told the SA Rugbymag website.
“Even now, we are still not fully professional. We don’t have anything like your Currie Cup, we don’t have control of our best players, the only thing we have achieved is the opportunity to play six times a year against the three best teams in the world.
“Of course, just being involved doesn’t signify progress. That doesn’t mean you have arrived as contenders. It was important to join an international competition, but what we are missing now is a franchise. You need to have your players competing on a weekly basis against the best the southern hemisphere has to offer.”
Super Rugby will expand again in 2016, and while South Africa is desperate for a sixth franchise, Argentina is also banking on getting a team in the competition.
Pichot is at the forefront of that plea for inclusion, and feels their inclusion is vital if they are to become serious contenders.
“We will adapt to any format that SANZAR comes up with. We are prepared for anything. If Super Rugby doesn’t happen, there’s no sense in having Argentina in the Rugby Championship. It’s illogical. If Argentina doesn’t get the franchise, it will just be six games a year where the top tier compete, and the other players in this country don’t have any competition at all.”
The Pumas’ Test against the Boks in Mendoza kicks off at 21:10 on Saturday.