Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Argentina must come in from the cold, says IRB chief

World Cup surprise package Argentina should be included in an expanded southern hemisphere Tri-Nations tournament, according to International Rugby Board chairman Dr Syd Millar.

The Pumas have risen to rugby's top table over the past few years, and yesterday made it into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history with a 19-13 win over Scotland in Paris.

The south Americans have not hidden their desire to play in either the Six Nations Championship or the Tri Nations, but logistical reasons more than anything have prevented any agreement being reached.

Millar believes the time has come for Argentina to join one of the tournaments, insisting "you can't neglect them anymore".

And he reckons the Pumas, as well as maybe another team from the Pacific Islands, joining the Tri-Nations would "freshen up" the competition.

"I think SANZAR (the umbrella organisation for the participating Tri-Nations teams) are now seriously considering it and after their performances in the Rugby World Cup, you can't neglect them any more," said the IRB chief.

"There is no room for them in the Six Nations - there is no space, unfortunately.

"They are a southern hemisphere country and we continually ask the Tri-Nations to look at it, but they have contracts in place for television and so on.

"When those are finished, they will have to look again. But certainly their performances on the field justify their inclusion in a tournament of that quality.

"I also think it would freshen the SANZAR tournament to have another country in it - maybe two, maybe another one from the islands. And they know that themselves.

"Those things are in the hands of other organisations, not ours. It's up to them. We can just simply try and put pressure on them."

Millar could not put a timeframe on Argentina's potential inclusion in the Tri-Nations. But he added: "It depends on when SANZAR's contracts run out and whether they would be doing a new tournament, hopefully with Argentina as part of it. Maybe it will be 2010, but it's up to them. It's also tied up with the Super 14 competition. Like everything else, it is evolving."