Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Discipline a focus for Argentina

Argentina Rugby Union chief executive Greg Peters. Photo / Photosport
Argentina Rugby Union chief executive Greg Peters. Photo / Photosport

Amid the feelgood factor surrounding rugby in Argentina following their inclusion into Super Rugby and their recent win over South Africa, the return to the squad from suspension of loose forward Leonardo Senatore illustrates probably better than anything the challenge it faces over enforcing discipline.

In March, Senatore was banned for 10 weeks for biting Sharks flanker Keegan Daniel, and it wasn't the first time Senatore had transgressed. He was also banned for biting in 2013, earning a nine-week sentence.

Supporters of Argentine rugby feel their players are often unfairly maligned, but there is no doubt they commit more than their share of offences, and their poor record is unacceptable to Argentina Rugby Union chief executive Greg Peters.

"We've got a long way to go to make sure we don't have a record like we had on the pitch this year," Peters said. "Our players play rugby with a true Latin passion but we need to harness that passion in a positive sense to make sure that's the way we play the game.

"It's a big focus point for us and something we need to correct. We're looking for consistency across the system as well - it's not that we think we're hard done by, but we need to make sure there's a consistent system in place and it's being applied."

Senatore's foul play at Kings Park in Durban was spotted after the match by a citing commissioner. Other incidents were more obvious, including the two red cards and one yellow handed out by referee Nick Briant during the loss to the lowly Kings in Port Elizabeth in May, which meant the Jaguares played with 13 men for 43 minutes and with only 12 for the final 10.

The departures of lock Tomas Lavanini and prop Ramiro Herrera for first-half shoulder charges to the heads of opponents, plus that of flanker Lezana Tomas to the sinbin late in the game for collapsing a maul, allowed the Kings to score three late tries for a 29-22 victory.

The Jaguares conceded eight yellow and two red cards during their inaugural season. They were often in the running, only to lose due to ill-discipline - they lost five matches by a differential of less than seven - and will immediately become more competitive once they improve that side of their game.

- NZ Herald

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