Gonzalo Quesada has hit back at Phil Kearns for claiming the Jaguares do not belong in Vodacom Super Rugby.
In the wake of the Waratahs’ defeat to the Jaguares, Kearns questioned the validity and fairness of the Jaguares’ inclusion in Super Rugby, saying he believes the Argentinian franchise has an unfair advantage and their continued involvement makes a complete mockery of the tournament.
But the Jaguares’ boss told the Sydney Morning Herald that while he respected Kearns opinion, the former Wallaby hooker did not understand the continuing problems in the game in Argentina which is ‘still really far behind’.
‘I admire him and I respect his opinion, and I understand the argument and the reason he’s giving. But I think we have to have a deeper look at the whole picture. I was surprised and a bit disappointed by those comments,’ Quesada said.
‘What is disappointing is when he says something like we cheated or we cheated to Sanzaar or there was a strategy. The idea was to get an Argentinian team to be better. We are improving year by year and we’re really thankful to be in Super Rugby.’
The Jaguares have won eight of their 13 matches and are top of the South African conference. But Kearns’ comments were prompted only after the Jaguares defeated the Waratahs to maintain their unbeaten record in Australia.
‘I don’t know if Phil’s opinion is shared by other Australians and I would like to know if a lot of people in Australia feel the same way that the Jaguares shouldn’t be there.’
‘If you see the reality of Argentinian rugby we are really still quite behind. We have players abroad and we don’t have our best players. We have at least six or seven players who were in under-20s last year that had no experience in Super Rugby or international experience. It’s a developing team and I think it’s a great opportunity for us.
‘Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were really generous giving us the opportunity to play this tournament. We don’t have enough players to have more than one franchise. We don’t have the infrastructure or players. We struggle to have a competitive team and that’s the reality.
‘All our players can play for other franchises, but no one calls them. No one is trying to steal our players from the southern hemisphere,’ he added.