I don’t know a lot about the politics of world rugby (even though I was once hauled before the IRB at the end of RWC ’99 – you’ll just have to find the earlier posting) but I do know that Argentina have been a bloody revelation. It would seem that the Tri-Nations don’t want them in their tournament and they’re not exactly well-positioned to compete regularly with Japan and the Pacific Is teams. And playing against the USA and Canada wouldn’t exactly light their fire as an annual competition. So, is it just me but why shouldn’t we invite them to join the 6 Nations?
They’ve been outstanding in the last 5 or 6 years and they’ve been allowed no real competition in all that time outside of occasional patronising friendlies. Hello. These guys have beaten France and Scotland on their way to the RWC semi-finals ie they’ve been more successful in this tournament than the All Blacks, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales not to mention all the ‘exciting’ teams from the Pacific region. They’ve had probably the best player in the tournament in Hernadez and before running out of steam/fit players have played some breathtaking rugby.
So why don’t we invite them (beg them?) to join the 6 Nations event. Let’s face it we wouldn’t have to travel down to BA to play them as virtually all their players are based in the N Hemisphere. Let them be based in Europe. I heard a reference to them being based in Barcelona. That would make a lot of sense from a language pov and new centre for rugby’s future development. But there’d be a very small ‘home’ audience for them in Barca esp in a huge stadium and I’m not sure it’d be entirely to their advantage. But why not base them in the North somewhere – Leeds, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield etc. The rugby fans there, disadvantaged by constant long trips to Twickenham, would take the Argies to their hearts. I know there’d be some deep residual post Falklands antipathy to the idea but what better way to establish a new bi-lateral relationship than through sport. Do we still despise SA for their abhorrent Apartheid regime? Of course not.
So come on RFU and all the other rfu’s in the 6 Nations and let’s not just invite but positively lobby for the Pumas to play in our great rugby tournament. Who now thinks that having Italy involved is a bad thing? Let’s not forget it’s not that long ago that Les Bleus were invited to join the 4 Home Nations and they’ve become the spiritual home of rampaging, open, flowing beautiful rugby. Even if they do tend to lose to us in the final stages of RWCs. Leave it.
ps If the above is too radical for some tastes here’s another thought. Invite Argentina, USA and Canada and the remaining continental rugby-playing nations, Georgia, Roumania and Portugal, with funding-help from RWC receipts to have their own mini-tournaments. The winners of these mini-leagues could then be invited to join the 6 Nations tournament as 7th and 8th nations. We could then have seeded draws for two leagues of 4, possibly playing home and away, with the top two from these leagues taking part in a play-off series of semis and final. Whether there’s room in the diary for this I don’t know. But it could be played out over two seasons I guess (the middle two between RWCs) to produce the Eur-Am Nations Champions (with a neater title!). Seems like a better way to bring on the developing rubgy nations rather than seeing them getting battered every 4 years in the RWC. I’m just convinced that if we continue to ignore Argentina, the Tri -nations will find a way to invite them to join them possibly by also inviting the Pacific nations Japan, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga to form a powerful 8 team S Hem/Pac championship. Just a thought