Tri-Nations v. Six Nations: Where Does Argentina Fit?

Argentina RugbyThe Rugby World Cup 2007 Tournament saw the emergance of several countries as legitimate teams or at least legitimate in years to come. Georgia made some enormous strides with their limited resources and in perhaps the toughest of the four pools. Fiji made the quarterfinals, upsetting the Welsh in possibly the most thrilling match of this years World Cup. Even Tonga turned some heads finishing third over Somoa and USA while coming dangerously close to defeating now World Cup finalists, South Africa. One team does stand out more so than these teams and that team is Argentina.

Argentina shocked the world when they defeated France at their home stadium in the ceremonial opener, then cruised on to handily defeat Namibia and Georgia and then showing Ireland the door. Argentina has been on a role before the World Cup began and they have been a good team for several years now. Their biggest problem in terms of being mentioned in the world’s elite is that there is little competition for them in the southern hemisphere and certainly even less in North America. Argentina has been making a case publicly for their inclusion in the world stage, that being the Six Nations Tournament which includes, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France and the Tri-Nations Tournament which includes New Zealand, Australlia and South Africa. Felipe Contempomi, one of Argentina’s standout players has suggested that the Six Nations would be good for the short term, but that the Tr-Nations is where they belong.

Contempomi seemed to suggest that the Tri-Nations would suit them better because they are in the southern hemisphere along with the other Tri-Nations teams. But at the same time, many of their players play their club rugby in Europe.

In my opinion, I think the Tr-Nations would be too much for them to handle and that the Six Nations would be a better fit. One could argue that Argentina’s defeat at the hands of the Springboks showed they are not ready for the Tri-Nations. Or maybe fatigue and pressure just got to them. Judging from the actual match, I think they were simply out-played and over their heads. Argentina barely escaped defeat from Scotland in the quarterfinals, a match I personaly believe Scotland lost rather than Argentina won. But then again Argentina did defeat France and Ireland giving them three wins out of six of the Six Nations teams. Contempomi believes the Tri-Nations will help Argentina rugby grow, but are they really ready to compete with the three powerhouses of the world? I think not.

The Tri-Nations would be too big of step for Argentina to make and I think would only discourage them in their quest for international recognition. The Six Nations would be a much better fit for them, a tournament they can actually compete in. Perhaps if the Tri-Nations also allowed Fiji and Tonga to compete it would be better and also make for a more interesting tournament. It seems most people in New Zealand believe Argentina can compete, or is it that they just want another team to liven things up?

It’s my opinion based on what I’ve read that there are alterior motives in allowing Argentina into the Tri-Nations. Things like TV contracts, money and fans simply wanting more teams seem to be of more importance rather than competition and the fostering of an up and coming nation. Argentina has proven they can compete with the best in Europe and unless the Tri-Nations expands beyond just including Argentina in the tournament, the Six Nations would be a much better fit.

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17 Responses to “Tri-Nations v. Six Nations: Where Does Argentina Fit?”

  1. Alan says:

    First off, despite everyone referring to Pool D as the “Pool of Death”, I’m starting to think that we were in a slightly tougher pool. I’d put USA, Tonga, and Samoa up against Namibia, Georgia, and Ireland. And England and South Africa have recently beaten France and Argentina. Of course Pool D was more evenly competitive.

    I agree that Argentina would be somewhat overmatched in the Tri-Nations. However, I don’t think that matters. When France joined to make it a “Five Nations” tournament, they had a tough run. When Italy made it Six, they also have had some tough years. So far, in eight tournaments, they have defeated Scotland three times, and against Wales have one draw and two victories. And yet, slowly but surely, the gap is closing with improved competition. I have no doubt that if the competition had been expanded in the 70s or 80s to include Romania instead, that Romania would be one of the class teams of Europe instead of falling so bitterly.

    Likewise, I am sure that Argentina would have some hard years in the Tri-Nations, but would also close the gap as a consequence of regular top flight competition. In fact, I think they would close the gap more quickly. Rugby has a much longer and more successful history in Argentina than it does in Italy, and they have more to build on than the Italians did a decade ago.

    As for the matter of player location…

    If Argentina played in the 7 Nations (and you might as well throw in Georgia to make it an even number), it would be convenient, as most of their top players are in Europe during that part of the year. However, one major benefit to being in a regular competition is growing the game at home. Presumably they would play all of their games in Europe, for the sake of convenience, and the lack of home games wouldn’t help. Another thing to consider would be their European base. I have heard Madrid suggested, but I wonder how the Spanish rugby people would feel about another national team calling Spain home. And what would it do for the Spanish game? I don’t know the answers, but those are interesting questions.

    Playing in the Tri-Nations wouldn’t necessarily be impossible for Pumas playing professionally in Europe. That tournament doesn’t really interfere with the club season in Europe, so an Argentine could go south for the summer without compromising his club commitments. Of course he’d be living in an Endless Winter. This tournament would enable the Pumas to the home games that they need. What’s more, the distances between Argentina and the Johannesburg, Sydney, and Auckland (~5000, 7400, and 6500 miles) are generally less that to the European capitals (~7000 miles), which also makes home games more feasible in this tournament (not to mention that such long travel is more practical for Tri-Nations teams than for 6 Nations teams due to club commitments).

  2. Alan says:

    As for the meaning of their semifinal loss, I agree that it shows that they’re not ready to step into the Tri-Nations and win. But I think it also shows that they ARE ready to step in and be respectable. They were clearly inferior, but not embarrassingly so.

    One more practical matter…it’s a lot easier to fit one team into a competition with odd numbers than even. They would add two weekends to the 6 nations. They wouldn’t add any weekends to the Tri-Nations; they’d only soak up the byes.

  3. Josh Houston says:

    That’s a very good point about France and Italy’s initial struggles in the Six Nations. I guess it’s to be expected that a team struggles when first entering one of the two tournaments. Argentina has proven they can compete with the Six Nations teams as it is.

    But I don’t think any of the Six Nations teams can compete in the Tri-Nations. I know France beat New Zealand and England beat Australia, but the Tri-Nations forum is alot different than the World Cup stage. New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are more at home and in my opinion play better rugby.

    Also, if Argentina were to be allowed into the Tri-Nations, I think it would be an insult to Fiji, Somoa and Tonga if they are not entered in.I’d be curious to see Argentina play in the Six Nations just one year before the go to the Tri-Nations to see how they’d fair. I just think these tournaments are different than the World Cup in terms of how teams perform (Look at how well Ireland did in the Six Nations only to collapse in the World Cup).

    I do agree though that for practical purposes, it does make sense to add Argentina to the Tri-Nations.

  4. Alan says:

    How do you figure that it would be an insult to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to take Argentina in first? I think that Argentina has a greater claim based on a number of factors.

    First off, Argentina is far stronger historically than any of these other countries. Of the four, they are the only one to appear in every World Cup. (Granted, that’s partly an artifact of qualifying structure – and Samoa’s non-invite for 1987 – but Argentina has always been either automatic or the top American qualifier.) In the World Cup itself, Argentina, Fiji, and Samoa each have the same number of quarterfinal appearances (2), while Tonga has none.

    Outside the world cup, Argentina has a far longer and greater track record of success against the major nations. For most of the modern history of the sport, Argentina was nearly always recognized as the top rugby country out of the big 8. Against those countries, Argentina has won 35 games and lost 92 (with a 7-3 margin against Scotland, an even record against France, and a draw against New Zealand). Tonga is 2-22, Fiji is 4-44, and Samoa is 4-31. Against those three nations, Argentina is 4-4, never having faced Tonga. Based on historical trends and current potential, Argentina is a much better competitive fit than any of the other three, even if Samoa or Fiji might put together a better team at various points.

    I think Argentina’s far larger population is desirable in a couple of other ways as well. For one thing, there’s still a lot of opportunity for the game to grow there. I don’t think there’s much chance for it to grow in the islands, as rugby pretty much already has a sporting monopoly in those countries. Argentina’s larger population and greater wealth also make it a more desirable market, which unfortunately is not irrelevant.

    Finally, including Argentina into the tournament makes it less of a South Pacific competition (with South Africa thrown in) and more of a pan-hemispheric competition.

  5. Josh Houston says:

    While agree with all that you said, I think it would be an insult solely based on the fact that Somoa, Fiji an Tonga are Pacific Island nations neighboring Australia and New Zealand. I think initially, Argentina would be just as competitive as the other (which wouldn’t be very compettitive at all).

    While Argentina does have a better historical record, I think Fiji consistently gets better every year and I think Fiji would actually be more competitive than Argentina at first simply because they play NZ and Aus regularly.


    I think Argentine rugby will grow tremendously after their world cup campaign, but they do need to be in the Tri-Nations or Six Nations. But I think the three Pacific Island nations need to be in as well so their teams can get better. I simpy think the Pcific Island nations deserve to be their along with Argentina because of their location and history with NZ and Aus.

    And I would LOVE to see Argentina and Fiji play! (Fiji beat Argentina in 7′s 22-14 in 2005 and lost in 15′s 30-49 in 2003)

  6. Omar says:

    I agree with Josh. A whole new Southern Hemisphere tournement could be held, all teams playing each other just the once (as it is with the Six Nations). NZ Australia, SA, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina could combine to form a 7 Nations. It would be a great multi-cultural event which would strengthen four more hungry rugby nations.

    I also believe that a European Cup should be formed in place of the 6 Nations. There could be 16 teams to enter, four groups of four nations, with the top two from each group qualifying for the last eight knock out stage and so on. There are plenty of up and coming nations that are starving for competition such as Romania, Georgia, Portugal, Spain, Russia and so on. It will be hard, but over time the gap can be cut, as has been done with Italy and France entering the 5 and 6 nations, and more recently the world cup, where the so called ‘minnows’ played extremely well.

    All this would strengthen so many nations and make the World Cup a bigger and more competitive competition. I mean, let’s face it – can any of you see any Nation lifting the Web Ellis trophy other than any of the previous winners? Maybe France, but that’s it, for the near future anyway.

  7. Gabriel says:

    “What a load of rubbish, this from the same lot of fools that wanted South Africa thrown out of the Tri-Nations two years ago because we weren’t competitive enough.” Maybe SANZAR would be better off disbanding and throwing the weak Australians out and incorporating the Pumas into the Tri-Nations instead, then we would have proper rugby again – like the old adage goes – the forwards win games the backs decide by how much. “The Aussies can’t win because they don’t have forwards! As proved by the runners up in the World Cup when their forwards decimated Australia in the quarters! Let them go play league – we want real rugby to stay!”

    Australian rugby chief John O’Neill tried to get rid of Argentina. He said. “Close to home we have a big obligation to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga”. Wow! Now that the IRB think of Argentina, all of a sudden Mr O’Neill thinks of the Pacific Island nations. But. The Pacific Nations are not number 3 in the world ranking. Mr O’Neil wants to help them with a visa, then be Australian and finally play for the Wallabies. Then he said. “the average age of their team is about 29 and we are not sure how much depth is coming through underneath”. Okay. Let me think of an excuse to not accept the South Americans. MMM. Pumas are too old? 27/10/1979 Argentina 24 – Australia 13 31/10/1987 Argentina 19 – Australia 19 7/11/1987 Argentina 27 – Australia 19 8/11/1997 Argentina 18 – Australia 16 24/6/2000 Australia 32 – Argentina 25 24/6/2006 Argentina 19 – Nueva Zelanda 25 28/06/2003 Sudáfrica 26 – Argentina 25 5/11/2005 Argentina 23 – South Africa 34 Remember still there’re Pumas playing amateur. Mmm. I would love to see a game Pumas vs Australia next week. Have you seen wallabies forwards? I think Georgia will give them a run.

  8. Gabriel says:

    The strange thing is, Argentina seem to have improved without the need to compete in one of these tounaments. And when you see the lack of quality play involved in both hemispheres supposed top competitions, you wonder what kind of effect they have on the gameplay itself. Having stand-alone games and mini tours seems to be doing ok by the Pumas, so maybe there is something that everyone – and most notably the IRB – is missing…

  9. Omar says:

    Hmm, interesting points you make there Gabby, however, I don’t think that mini tours and stand-alone games will be enough to keep the Argentines satisfied. I think they deserve to be as part of a major tournement as a mark of respect for a nation that has come such a long way. They may have the ability to beat France, Australia and England in one off games, but Argentina want to be at a level where they are competing with these teams consistantly year after year. Look at how Italy have progressed – quite something really, considering they were the whipping boys just 5 years ago, now they pose a real threat to whoever they meet. If we want to grow rugby as a global game, then surely my suggestion of the 7 Nations and a newly formed European cup makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? European teams have the interest, they just need the competition – the pacific Islands have the will, but they don’t get supplied with the opposition on a regular basis, meaning that these ‘minnows’ of world rugby are in for a shock every 4 years, and to be honest, it’s not fun seeing NZ beat Portugal by over 100 points – this isn’t cricket. Imagine if Tonga, Samoa, Argentina and Fiji were on a closer level to the ‘big three’ of the south. And also imagine if nations such as Georgia, Portugal and Romania were on a similar par to Wales and Scotland. The Rugby World cup would be a real spectacle, harder to predict and more competitive. The only teams that were capable of winning the 2007 world cup were NZ (who choked, AGAIN), France (only because they were the hosts) and SA, who peaked perfectly in time. The Soccer world cup has 10 different teams that are capable of winning it every 4 years – why? because it’s global.

  10. Josh Houston says:

    I agree with you Omar that the goal should be to make the World Cup more competetive. Both the 6 Nations and Tri Nations should be opened up to other teams so that teams like Fiji, Somoa, Tonga, Portugal, Romania and Georgia will become better through fierce competition with better rugby nations.

    This way in the 2011 World Cup yu won’t have one “pool of death” where there are 3 very good teams in one pool and only 2 in the other 3. I’m all for competition and I love seeing small nations like the ones above grow into contenders. After a boring WC final, I think we need more competition. I thought the Pacific Island nations played some of the most exciting matches in the pool stages.

  11. Omar says:

    Yes Josh, spot on. If these smaller rugby nations are ever to mount a serious challenge then we need to strengthen now. It will take much time and effort and we probably wouldn’t see solid results until the 2015 World Cup, but we need to get the ball roling now. The great thing about world rugby is that every nation has their own unique style of play which has served a tradition, like South Africa with their power, the French with their unpredictability, the Welsh with their flair and so on. The Pacific Islanders played some superb rugby, but lacked both the fitness and experience to take them further than Fiji’s last 8 showing. Argentina were the closest, but despite their brave efforts, it was quite evident that they just lacked that experience and edge which they could have gained from regular competitive matches prior to the world cup.

    The gap is big, but 10 years ago it was bigger. The next 10 years will be critical in the development of rugby – how much longer will it be before we can finally go into a world cup without predicting the same 2 or 3 winners? Let’s see.

  12. Vic says:

    Looks like it’s the 6 Nations for now.

  13. Josh Houston says:

    Yeah I just read that. Better for them. They all play in Europe and they have a very realistic shot to win. Plus some good matchups between Argentina, France, Ireland and Scotland. You know France wants pay back and I’m sure Ireland and Scotland would like another crack at them.

  14. Dan D says:

    Argentina can definatley compete with any side in the world, they beat France twice in their own world cup, they bottled it against South Africa, but if they played in the tri nations they would soon fit in very comfortabley and i’m sure have the quality to win it.

  15. Vic Drover says:

    Looks like I’ll be able to see New Zealand in Buenos Aires pretty soon.

  16. Josh Houston says:

    This doesn’t make any sense. Argentina is going to get
    murdered by RSA, NZ, and AUS. Just look at how Argentina fared in
    the fall test matches this past year. They may have made some
    noise in the RWC 2007, but that seems like ages ago. Argentina in
    an expanded “7 Nations” tournament makes much more sense given
    that’s where most, if not all of their key players play their
    domestic rugby. This is a money move, nothing more. Probably a
    desperate reach to make the Tri-Nations more interesting too.

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