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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Pumas' Tri-Nations hopes dashed
Agustin Pichot
Pichot believes the Pumas are good enough for the Tri-Nations
Argentina have been told they have no chance of joining the Tri-Nations until after the 2005 event.

The Pumas have been bidding to be part of the annual tournament, which at present is open to just New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

But John O'Neill, chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, said no deal could be brokered in the near future because of the current television deal.

"We have received a submission from Argentina which has been taken on board," said O'Neill.

"But our television contract is for a fixed amount of money over a fixed term and it would not be possible to include them before that comes to an end because there would be no more money in the pot.

"Ourselves, New Zealand and South Africa are all reviewing our domestic situation at the moment, and Argentina is one of the options we are looking at."

Argentina have been battling to enter the Tri-Nations in recent seasons, with World Cup captain Agustin Pichot among those outspoken on the matter.

The Pumas scrum-half said he planned to use the World Cup to push for his side's inclusion in future Tri-Nations.

He told the BBC Sport website: "I've been saying we should be included in the Tri-Nations for the last four years but it is very difficult to change people's minds.

"If we were included, it would help expand the popularity of the tournament as well as helping us become more competitive globally.

"It would bring a more interesting part to the tournament and we've shown were good enough and we'll show at the World Cup we are up to the task."

Support for the Pumas' cause has been heightened in 2003 following a series of telling performances against the world's elite.

Like Italy, we won't be awful but we're not going to win it straight out either
Agustin Pichot on Argentina's Tri-Nations chances

They picked up back-to-back victories against France in Buenos Aires before being narrowly defeated by South Africa in a nail-biting contest in Port Elizabeth.

Pichot added: "That proves we're competitive enough but that's not so much of a consideration to me.

"People have to take risks. A risk was taken when Italy were invited into the Six Nations and struggled initially, but they've shown they can match most of the sides now.

"Like Italy, we won't be awful but we're not going to win it straight out either. But this will give us the chance to raise our game and make rugby more competitive globally."

Argentina are still semi-professional at present, with most of the players on professional contracts while their management boast day jobs as well as their roles in shaping Argentine rugby.

Pichot added: "For the last couple of years Argentina have been playing very well and we even came close to beating Australia in Buenos Aires.

"So why not give us a chance to show them what we can do on a regular basis."





Links to more Argentina stories


 

SEE ALSO
Pichot back from the brink
24 Sep 03  |  Argentina


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