Rugby Championship News

New Zealand not sold on including Argentina in TriNations yet




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The New Zealand Rugby Union are not yet convinced about the feasability of including Argentina in the TriNations competition even though the IRB has given “directive” to bring the matter to a conclusion.

The IRB arranged for a meeting of the 10 “tier-one” rugby nations in England earlier this week and following that meeting Argentina appeared to have inched closer to joining an expanded Tri-Nations and longer tours were put forward as a solution to the June internationals.

The New Zealand Rugby Union say that there were optimistic following the meeting held at at Heathrow but remained unconvinced.

One of the reasons for their skepticism is that in a similar meeting last year in Woking it was agreed that all European club rugby had to be finished by the end of May to make way for the June tours but France plan to ignore that in 2009.

France will tour New Zealand next year in June and due to their club final dates they will be forced to send their players in two phases.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said that they would still consider canceling All Blacks tours to Europe if under-strength teams are sent to New Zealand.

“In the end it comes down to making sure the best players are available,” Tew said of the June tests.

“If that doesn’t happen then we reserve our right [not to tour Europe in November].

“There are a lot of things that work in rugby; the June window doesn’t work. At some point in time we will have to consider the November tours.

“Hopefully the discussions we’ve had have moved us a step or two away from that because the reality is we have to ensure the integrity of test rugby.

“The weak part of that is the June window,” Tew told RugbyHeaven.

In order to solve the problem the top ten nations which is made up of the teams of the Tri-Nations, Six Nations and Argentina agreed to support the Woking agreement’s regulation of European club rugby.

It was also agreed that they would investigate the feasibility of slightly longer tours to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, with the potential for games other than tests.

“One-off tests don’t work”, Tew said and added that for international rugby to be meaningful the best players had to be playing and the contest had to be relevant

The tests in the Northern Hemisphere this month are more important than they have ever been as they will count towards 2011 World Cup ranking points and if the June Tests were to have a similar value it would solve a number of problems.

Tew was restrained on Argentina’s inclusion in the Tri-Nations. Everyone agreed they needed to be part of more meaningful competitions, but funding had to be considered in any potential solution.

Lapasset acknowledged sorting through the playing calendar was incredibly complex.

“It includes the requirements of the clubs, provinces and national unions, the issue of separate playing seasons in two hemispheres, player welfare requirements, geographical and time zone considerations.

“Finding solutions that allow for growth, a balanced schedule and the promotion of meaningful matches has been a challenge.”

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