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Argentina deserve TriNations spot : O’Neill

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The newly re-appointed Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill believed Argentina’s World Cup upset of France deserved the reward of admission into an expanded Tri-Nations.
 
But O’Neill confirmed it could not occur until 2011 at the earliest when the current SANZAR broadcasting deal expires.

O’Neill told AAP he couldn’t argue with an Argentinian official after the 17-12 win in Paris when the IRB delegate asked him “what more do we have to do?”.

It’s a compelling case with Argentina ranked No.6 in the world and crying out for more quality Test matches.

A fourth team could see the annual southern tournament played home and away with six rounds over two months.

“We’re not doubting they’re playing ability, there are logistical issues,” said O’Neill to AAP.

“That performance (on Friday night) certainly didn’t detract from their credentials which are already pretty substantial.

“It’s a subject that’s under continual analysis from the three SANZAR countries.”

The addition of the Pumas to a southern hemisphere Four Nations would make for added difficulties with travel and also players gaining the blessing from northern hemisphere clubs to play in their off-season.

Nine of Argentina’s starting team are contracted to French clubs and SANZAR would want to ensure only a full-strength Pumas side would line-up against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

It’s a continual debate in France whether the Pumas should play in the northern Six Nations or if they should play in the TriNations. They are a Southern Hemisphere team and there is more room in the TriNations so in reality they should be in the TriNations.

Speaking on the topic France coach Bernard Laporte said “I have always agreed (about that),” “It’s not right that they are excluded from a major competition.”

O’Neill and Wallabies coach John Connolly believe Argentina belong in the south.

Negotiations with broadcaster News Ltd begins in less than two years but in the meantime O’Neill is determined to see the IRB make an undertaking to an “integrated season” during an important November meeting.

O’Neill said the ARU would not accept second-string touring teams playing in Australia like Wales and South Africa this year.

“We won’t stand for them,” he said.

“You’ve got to have the best playing the best. We don’t want Test matches to turn into friendlies.”

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