Wed, Oct 17, 2007, Posted by Stan Doffe, International Correspondent
The 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.