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Page last updated at 08:27 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 09:27 UK

Argentina set to join Tri-Nations

Felipe Contepomi
Pumas skipper Felipe Contepomi is set for regular top-class internationals

Argentina have been invited to join South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in an expanded southern hemisphere rugby union championship from 2012.

The Pumas came third in the last World Cup and are ranked sixth in the world.

Argentina Rugby (UAR) President Porfirio Carreras called it "momentous" news and retired World Cup captain Agustin Pichot said he was "delighted".

The invitation is conditional and needs to be approved by Tri-Nations governing body SANZAR's broadcasters.

Among the conditions to be met are that the Pumas will field their best players and the UAR come up with a satisfactory financial package.

SANZAR chief executive Andy Marinos said: "To have the Pumas join with the three top-ranked international teams in world rugby will be exciting for fans, players, sponsors and broadcasters across our four countries and beyond.

"They play a different style to the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies and their inclusion will see the Tri-Nations evolve to be a truly southern hemisphere championship."

606: DEBATE
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The Pumas have been pushing for inclusion in the southern hemisphere's major tournaments since they finished third at the 2007 World Cup, ahead of New Zealand and Australia, despite not being part of a regular international competition.

They have been overlooked for inclusion in the southern hemisphere's Super provincial competition, which will be increased from 14 to 15, though individual players will be offered places in those teams.

Carreras stated: "I would like to thank my board and everyone who supported us to reach this point. We are very much looking forward to working with our partners in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to secure our place in the best competition in world rugby in 2012."

Under the proposed format for the Four Nations, each team would play each other home and away, giving all countries six games and a total of 12 matches overall. The series would be played over eight or nine weeks from mid-August.

Former scrum-half Pichot, who has been replaced as Argentina captain by Felipe Contepomi, said: "I can't express the joy of myself and the team that has been working on this project to get to this point."

"We are committed to working with SANZAR to meet the conditions."



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see also
Tri-Nations weigh up Pumas entry
04 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Pumas hold talks with Tri-Nations
03 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Argentina miss out on Six Nations
30 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union


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