“Argentina has to find answers in Argentina”
June 6, 2006
Yesterday Argentina Pumas captain Agustín Pichot spoke to Planet Rugby about the current problems striking at the heart of Argentine rugby.
About 60 players declared they would not represent the Pumas during the forthcoming Tests against Wales and New Zealand, claiming that they were not receiving sufficient support from the Argentina Rugby Union (UAR).
The players then agreed to play after discussions with Argentina bosses, but the agreement to honour the Tests is more of a temporary ceasefire than a lasting peace treaty.
Pichot insists that the problems are not money-related as many believe, saying that he and other senior Pumas "would all play for free if we thought that would progress matters".
According to the veteran scrum-half, the main grievance is the UAR's failure to grow the game domestically - an issue that has angered many of Argentina's overseas-based players who yearn to return from foreign fields to play professional rugby at home. [...]
Have all the players agreed to cease the strike completely?
AP: We have. But we haven't agreed terms with the board. But for the future of rugby in Argentina we decided to play. Otherwise it would have shown a lack of respect to Wales as well. Unfortunately we have had to do something we did not want to do up to now. [...]
How long has the discontent been brewing?
AP: There are two aspects. One is the international aspect, the other is domestic. On the international scene, we were waiting for the great powers of the world - South Africa, New Zealand and the rest - to give us a chance, probably in the Tri-Nations. But it never happened. We saw that the Six Nations was not possible, we saw the Tri-Nations is not possible. Maybe - maybe - there is a chance to organise something with the Americas. You can say we are better than them, but for how long has France and England been dominating the Six Nations? But because we could not find a competition, and because we knew nothing would happen until 2009 because of the contract which they [SANZAR] signed in 2005, we got together and thought about doing something locally. The local drive was going well, and although the players were based abroad, we were preparing well and building well as a team and as a country. That all changed drastically with the new UAR guys that came in.
Read the whole interview.