SANZAR have welcomed the decision of the IRB Council to change the player availability regulation, marking a major step towards Argentina’s national team, Los Pumas, participating in a new SANZAR Four Nations competition from 2012.
The decision by the IRB Council to alter IRB Regulation 9 which governs the release of players for international duty, greatly assists in meeting the condition set by SANZAR that Argentina was required to secure the availability of its best players to participate in the Four Nations tournament.
The change will ensure that the release period for the new Four Nations (currently Tri Nations) aligns with the new dates for the competition from late August through until early October.
In September 2009, SANZAR issued an invitation to the Pumas to join the SANZAR competition from 2012 subject to several conditions which have now been resolved.
Negotiation of a participation agreement with the UAR remains the last hurdle for inauguration of the new competition.
“This is an exciting step for SANZAR and for world rugby, as it confirms Argentina’s participation in a top-flight rugby competition, which they thoroughly deserve, and will add a dynamic new element to the current Tri Nations, which is already regarded as one of the world’s toughest tournaments,” said SANZAR and New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew.
“We now need to finalise a participation agreement with the UAR so we can move to full planning for the introduction of Argentina in 2012,” he said.
The IRB confirmed in March that it would match SANZAR and provide a significant investment of US$2.5m per annum from 2012 to 2015.
SANZAR also confirmed that the three SANZAR Unions and their Super Rugby teams will work with the UAR to look at providing greater opportunities for Argentinean players to play in Super Rugby teams as part of the lead-up to the new Four Nations.