The news of the continuity of the Rugby Championship for another 10 years is excellent news for Argentine rugby. Because after a totally atypical year due to the pandemic that forced the suspension of Super Rugby and that opened a question mark about the competition going forward, the four-nation tournament of teams also seemed to be at risk, especially after the downfall of South Africa, the world champion and strategic partner of Los Pumas, for the 2020 edition that has already started in Australia.
In Scrum we carry out a review of a year of uncertainties, full of rumors, twists and turns in the information that included the possibility that the Springboks and the clubs of that country compete in the northern hemisphere, but that culminated with the confirmation by SANZAAR and the favorable demonstration by South Africa about the decision.
– The UAR announces that San Juan will host for the first time in its history a game for the Rugby Championship. It would be Saturday, August 15 against the Springboks, for the second date of the tournament.
– The Argentine Rugby Union announces that San Juan, Mendoza and Buenos Aires would be the cities that would host the three matches of Los Pumas in the country. On Saturdays, August 15, September 19 and, finally, September 26.
– The suspension of Super Rugby is announced, although the Rugby Champioship maintains its scheduled date to start on 8 August.
– Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers raises the idea of South Africa playing in both an expanded Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.
– The November international window is questioned as a possible consequence of the pandemic and Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle announces her intention to play the Championship in November.
– NZ Herald publishes that due to the economic difficulties that the world of rugby is going through due to the pandemic, New Zealand Rugby is in talks with an American investment company for multimillion-dollar figures that could lead it to leave World Rugby.
– The suspension of the July window is announced, in which Los Pumas were to play in their country against France and Italy.
– Gonzalo Quesada announces that he is leaving Jaguares and will continue his career at the Stade Francais in France. The players also process their departure to European clubs after receiving a request from the Union to ease finances.
– In the framework of a meeting in which the UAR made a detailed review of the situation of Argentine rugby as a result of the effects caused by the pandemic, the president of the entity, Marcelo Rodríguez, says that he welcomes the possibility of contest an adapted Rugby Championship and “concentrated in Australia in October and November”.
– SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux comments that “the possibility of playing the Rugby Championship in one place as a ‘bubble'”.
– In the framework of a meeting organized by World Rugby with the aim of thinking about alternatives for the future international calendar, the executive director of Rugby Football Union, Bill Sweeney, proposes the idea of launching, from 2022, a tournament among those selected of the southern hemisphere and those of the northern hemisphere.
– SANZAAR announces the possibility of hosting a full Rugby Championship this year with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa and says it could unfold within a bubble off the east coast of Australia. SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos presents a state of play regarding Sanzaar negotiations for the resumption of competitions: “The four member unions remain committed to strengthening this long-term bond. Beyond the reformatting of domestic competitions due to the evolution of the pandemic in countries such as New Zealand and Australia, there is a unanimous understanding that the value of the SANZAAR alliance and the correct path of Super Rugby towards international rugby remains fundamental to the success, development and long-term competitiveness of the respective National Teams “
– Marcelo Rodríguez, president of the UAR states: “The link with Sanzaar is intact and the 4 nations are working together to see how to establish international competencies in relation to the impact that this pandemic that affects the entire planet continues to impose on us.”
– World Rugby issued a statement in which it informs the possible competition dates for the remainder of 2020. It includes the intention that the Rugby Championship be played entirely in a single country, in a reduced period of six weeks, between the November 7 and December 12.
– New Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber questions whether the team will participate in the Rugby Championship: “We have a responsibility to ensure that the players have received sufficient conditioning so that they can play rugby”
– SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos dismisses rumors emerging from the French press that the Springboks are being tempted to replace Japan in a possible Eight Nations in Europe between November and December, setting aside the 2020 Rugby Championship.
– Six Nations Vice President Bernard Laporte affirms that South Africa is in “advanced talks” to replace the Japanese national team in that tournament that would involve two groups of four teams each. “The Japanese will not come to Europe. We are looking for a nation to replace them. We are in advanced talks with South Africa. It would be great to be able to face the world champions, although it is not yet defined.
– South Africa announces return to competitive action subject to compliance with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux welcomes the news from the Government of South Africa that has given rugby the green light to return to the field of play under certain conditions starting in September.
– The Pumas are authorized by the national government to return to training with immediate effect so that they can prepare for the Rugby Championship that is confirmed to be played between November and December. Mario Ledesma announces the list of players who will prepare for the competition.
– “We are very happy to be able to be training at Casa Pumas, it is an enormous satisfaction to be able to see the boys and meet again after almost five months of being in quarantine,” says Bautista Delguy after the first day of training.
– Despite speculation that the Championship would be played in New Zealand, it is finally confirmed that the tournament will be played in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. Andy Marinos states: “SANZAAR finally determined that, according to the protocols required by the government, Australia was the most viable option in terms of logistics.” In addition, it questions the participation of the Springboks and anticipated that it will depend on the evolution of the situation of the pandemic in South Africa for the next several weeks.
– Marcelo Rodríguez, president of the UAR: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, participation in the Rugby Championship has been a priority for the Argentine Rugby Union. There were many days of uncertainty and of analyzing different possibilities that did not put the players at risk. There was a very good conversation with our SANZAAR partners, so today we are a little closer to achieving the most beautiful thing that rugby has: to see Los Pumas on a field again ”.
– Rumors about South Africa’s withdrawal from the Championship are getting louder and on October 13 SANZAAR gives a 48-hour ultimatum to the Union to respond. Two days later, it is confirmed that the Springboks will not participate in the competition and the SANZAAR relationship shakes in the public eye. The director of Rugby of that country and coach of the world champion in Japan 2019, Rassie Erasmus explains the reasons that led his country to make the decision: “We discovered that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of playing time before they could be ready for a test match. “
– Andy Marinos, CEO of SANZAAR, states: “It is extremely disappointing that the Springboks, due to the continuing complexities brought by the pandemic, are unable to compete. That said, we are now presented with a unique opportunity, in our 25th year, to close 2020 with a Three Nations. SANZAAR recognizes the challenges and adversities that national unions have had to face this year. “
– South Africa Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, explains: “SANZAAR and Rugby Australia have done their best to get the Rugby Championship played and it would have been unfair for them, their partners and the state government to delay a decision any longer. It is a disappointing result for the fans, but the Ongoing impacts of the pandemic across multiple dispensations mean that we are unable to offer a Springbok team without seriously compromising the well-being of players, in addition to other logistical challenges. “
– In this way, the Three Nations for November and December is conformed and confirmed.
– Marcelo Rodríguez, President of the Argentine Rugby Union, said: “We regret the loss of South Africa in a competition that we had fought hard so that it can be played between the four countries. Numerous meetings, different points of view, with the dynamism and uncertainty that the COVID context brought with it but with the certainty of always wanting to play it, understanding the health measures imposed by the authorities of New Zealand and Australia, countries that appeared as candidates for host competition. In the case of the UAR, enormous efforts were made to be able to participate in this tournament. Despite this, we respect the decision of the SARU. We will continue talking among all the members of SANZAAR, to continue working together looking for the best alternatives for 2021, which will be a year of transition. What if it is clear that it is the 12 games of Los Pumas have been confirmed five years from now ”.
– The New Zealand media rescued in every way, that the Championship is still alive: “In South Africa they consider that the commitment to competition is solid. For them, the tournament is an enormously valuable competition, since facing the Springboks is not only a sporting challenge but produces significant business and high-performance benefits. “
– Finally, after weeks of uncertainty, SANZAAR announces on Tuesday, November 3, that the Rugby Championship will continue for 10 more years with some modifications. Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa recognize the need for a change in these times and committed between now and 2030, to work on the restructuring of the alliance, on the renewal of the brand, on new development initiatives and a new provision of the Structure of the national, provincial and club tournaments The event will be restructured to include a 12-game schedule with teams playing both games at home or away from home both games. It will be a minitour format.
– Marcelo Rodriguez, President of the Argentine Rugby Union, said: “This news is the result of the enormous commitment that exists between the four member unions, towards the development of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere. The situation of the coronavirus has given us constant lessons throughout this time and that is why we agree that it is time to review some issues related to the structure and brand image, for the next decade ”.
– “We welcome the changes announced at the Rugby Championship with our SANZAAR partners and we look forward to seeing what the new strategic plan entails for the competition, with possible international expansion among the plans,” he said. Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby. .