Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Argentina's American Six Nations ambition threatens Super Rugby talent

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Argentina have proposed to be part of an American Six Nations series with Uruguay, United States, Canada, Chile and Brazil starting next year. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Argentina have proposed to be part of an American Six Nations series with Uruguay, United States, Canada, Chile and Brazil starting next year. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Further alarm bells are ringing for Super Rugby next year as Argentina enlarge their ideas even more.

As accomplished players and others head for deals they find more attractive in Europe, Sanzar is expanding rather than downsizing its tournament.

Super Rugby is growing to an 18-team competition with Argentina and Japan in the mix of a new conference system.

While there has been optimism from those two countries about their impact, a worrying noise has arrived to complicate matters.

Argentine officials are bullish about a concept they have proposed to be part of an American Six Nations series with Uruguay, United States, Canada, Chile and Brazil starting next year.

The idea is being driven by Agustin Pichot, who was the Pumas' former champion halfback and is now a driving force in that country's rugby as a representative on World Rugby.

The Pumas president has been to the States for discussions and the Argentines are set to table their proposal to World Rugby for a planned tournament next February and March.

Apparently, the concept is gaining plenty of traction. Television networks have conveyed their interest in what will be a critical element of any such tournament.

When the Eagles hosted the All Blacks last year at Soldier Field in Chicago, they were able to put up a full-house sign and there have been similar projections about a Six Nations series in other countries.

There is a complication.

Argentina are committed to Super Rugby next year and have pledged to put out a strong side for their inaugural appearance in the competition, while Pichot has vowed to deliver a full-strength side to an American Six Nations series.

If Puma sides are involved in both Super Rugby and the Six Nations they will be diluted products. While some players have started to drift back to sign contracts in Argentina, many of their players remain on deals in Europe where they rely on their employers to get time off to represent their country.

Doesn't worry you because the Pumas are in the South African section rather than the New Zealand-Australian conferences?

It might not affect your television viewing schedule but the likely imbalance in talent between the NZ-Oz sections and the South African conferences should trigger warnings about the authenticity of such a competition.

Those caveats were circling when the new system was being mooted. Those risks will intensify if Argentina's resources are split between Super Rugby and a Six Nations.

We watched Australia's resources dwindle as they expanded to five teams. Argentina are heading towards a similar uncertain future in their hurry to get recognised.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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