The 2007 World Cup saw Argentina announce themselves as an established force on the world rugby stage. Their impressive display, seeing them reach the semi finals before being defeated by eventual champions South Africa made the world sit up and pay attention. 4 years on, their World Cup was less spectacular, but equally as telling of their rise in the Rugby world and they will next year embark on their first Four Nations campaign, joining the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a revamp of the Tri Nations.
The international game is flourishing in Argentina but their domestic game is lagging behind. The next step for Argentina surely has to be improving the domestic scene and the opportunity to do just that could be on the horizon according to South African deputy Rugby chief Mark Alexander. According to Alexander the South Americans could be in with a chance of securing a Super Rugby franchise in the next few years. The chance for an Argentine side to be competing alongside the likes of the Crusaders, the Brumbies and the Bulls would be huge for Argentine Rugby.
The game has been professional in Argentina for over a decade, but their league is by no means amongst the strongest in the world and it is harder for the masses to get excited by it than it would with the presence of Super Rugby in the region. The chance to see the world’s best week in, week out would be a huge factor in increasing the popularity of Rugby in Argentina and would surely help to develop the game even further within the country.
Aside from within Argentina the benefits would be felt throughout the Tri Nations and through the Rugby World as a whole. Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are all very keen to see more Argentines playing in Super Rugby, it would strengthen the tournament and strengthen all of the nations involved.
The only factor which could count against the Argentines is the availability of the top players to play regularly in the Super Rugby campaigns. If this could be secured according to Mike Eagle, president of NZRU and Mark Alexander there is no reason why Argentina can’t have a place in the future of the Super Rugby brand.