Andy Marinos, Acting Managing Director of SA Rugby and CEO of SANZAR said: “To have the Pumas, third at Rugby World Cup 2007 and currently ranked sixth in the world, join with the three top ranked international teams in world rugby will be exciting for fans, players, sponsors and broadcasters across our four countries and beyond. They play a different style to the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies and their inclusion will see the Tri Nations evolve to be a truly Southern Hemisphere Championship”
SANZAR stressed that conditions are attached to the invitation for the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) to join the Four Nations in 2012. They are focused around:
• Argentina securing the participation of their best players to play in the Four Nations. To assist with this the National Unions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are very keen to actively work with Argentina to place their best players across Super Rugby teams in the three countries;
• SANZAR and Argentina confirming the financial model that will apply;
“In addition, SANZAR is in the process of renegotiating its broadcasting contracts and, whilst we have kept our broadcasters fully informed about the discussions with Argentina, we now need to confirm their view on the plan to include Argentina from 2012”, said Mr Marinos.
“With the significant progress the UAR has made in transforming rugby in Argentina and making the case to SANZAR for it to be included in the Tri Nations, we are confident that SANZAR, the UAR and the IRB can work together to confirm the Pumas participation from 2012”
The President of the UAR, Mr Porfirio Carreras, said: “This is a momentous time for rugby in Argentina and I would like to thank my board and everyone who supported us to reach this point. We are very much looking forward to working with our partners in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to secure our place in the best competition in world rugby in 2012”
The format for the new Four Nations will see the four teams playing on a home and away basis meaning six matches per team and a total of 12 matches overall. The Four Nations will be played from mid-August (following the end of the new Super Rugby competition) for an eight or nine week period through until early to mid-October. In a Rugby World Cup year an abbreviated format will be played through July and August.
Augustine Pichot – the captain of the Pumas team at Rugby World Cup 2007 and now a member of the UAR High Performance Board and a member of Four Nations project team – said: “I can't express the joy of myself and the team that has been working on this project to get to this point. We are delighted to have the chance to become a great rugby nation and to play in top-level international rugby and we are committed to working with SANZAR to meet the conditions
”This exciting development will be vital to grow the game in Argentina. This is historic and everyone in Argentina should be proud.”
Mr Marinos said SANZAR looked forward to confirming the Pumas’ place alongside the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in a new Four Nations. He said SANZAR would be meeting representatives of the UAR and the IRB to work towards confirming this.