Wallabies legend Phil Kearns believes having the Jaguares in Vodacom Super Rugby makes a complete ‘mockery’ of the tournament.
The Jaguares, along with the Sunwolves, were included in the competition in 2016 when Super Rugby expanded from 15 to 18 years.
In their first season they ended 13th, followed by a 10th-place finish in 2017. In 2018, the Jaguares finished seventh and qualified for the knockout stage of the tournament for the first time. They’ve continued their gradual improvement, and are currently top in the South African conference with just three rounds remaining.
But Kearns, who played 67 Tests for the Wallabies between 1989 and 1999, and is currently working as a television pundit, says the Argentine franchise ‘hoodwinked’ Sanzaar and that they have an unfair advantage due to their ability to select a larger number of Argentinian Test players, compared with the other franchises in the competition.
‘It’s crazy, it just makes a mockery of the competition,’ Kearns lamented. ‘If you want to have a provincial side in it, pick a provincial side.’
‘They had 300 caps on their bench, there’s no other Super Rugby team that could do that, and their whole side is basically the Test team. I’d be surprised if there’s not one one of those players that misses out on being in the Argentine World Cup side,’ Kearns said.
‘It just shows the flaws we have in this competition by having the Jaguares in it, and they’ve got to think seriously about it.’
Kearns added that Argentina had ended up not only with a strong Super Rugby team, but also a better chance at this year’s World Cup.
‘They’re the national team. They shouldn’t even be in the competition. What they’ve done is they’re just preparing for the World Cup.’
Kearns’ comments comes after another former Wallaby, Mark Ella, questioned the Jaguares’ participation in Super Rugby.
‘When Sanzar became Sanzaar with the admission of Argentina, the travel burden became ridiculous,’ Ella wrote in his column for the Weekend Australian.
‘The Rugby Championship and Super Rugby now circle the globe and are played on every continent in the southern hemisphere. No other sporting teams in any competition anywhere in the world endure the epic road trips of southern hemisphere rugby nations.
‘In Super Rugby, the Jaguares play in the South African conference, their nearest neighbour, yet it is still 8000km from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg. It just adds to the sense that Argentina are not where they belong.’
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