Pumas get Tri-Nations lifeline

Saru says it will welcome Argentina into the Vodacom Tri-Nations, barely a year after the Pumas were excluded from the five-year Murdoch deal.

The Pumas are desperate for some regular competition and have even spoken of their desire to join the Six Nations. If they were allowed a seat at the Tri-Nations table it would only be from 2011.

“We would support your request to play in the Tri-Nations,” Saru deputy chief executive Mveleli Ncula told the Argentinean ambassador to South Africa at a function. “If the idea of including the Pumas ever reached the Sanzar boardroom we would offer our support at those discussions.”

“We belong in a tournament in the southern hemisphere and not in an expanded Six Nations,” ambassador Carlos Sersale di Cerisano said. “But at this stage that possibility is at least five years away.”

Springbok coach Jake White said he would welcome the inclusion of the Pumas.

“I think it would add a new dimension to the tournament and perhaps refresh it,” White said. “Many people have been calling for a return to longer tours instead of a Tri-Nations, but perhaps the inclusion of Argentina would be another option.

“It would mean vast travelling distances, which might help us as New Zealand and Australia would have to travel more than they currently do.

“Argentina have improved their player base tremendously through the French league, and the Tri-Nations would give them a chance to regularly play as a national team and further improve their rugby.”