Argentina will only pick players based in Argentina from 2016, coach Daniel Hourcade has told Midi Olympique.
From 2016 Argentina, along with Japan, will have a franchise in the Super Rugby competition and Hourcade will follow the precedent set by New Zealand and Australia of only selecting players based domestically.
Many of Argentina’s top players currently ply their trade abroad due to the financial incentives on offer and 10 of the starting 15 to face France on Saturday are based in Europe. The move will require a major shift in Argentinian rugby with many of their top players needing to be drawn home to keep the national team competitive but Hourcade insists there will be no exceptions to the rule.
“Until last year 90% of Pumas played in Europe,” Hourcade told Midi Olympique. “The Argentinian franchise which will join Super Rugby in 2016, will therefore change things. The aim is to bring all our internationals back home.
“The rule will be the following: Any player who plays outside Argentina will not be able to wear the Puma jersey. Argentina will follow the Australian and New Zealand policy. The players are free to choose between the money and the jersey.”
The problem is however, how can a national team that only has one fully professional club side expect this to work? Yes there will be a lot of continuity between club and country as the XV who start in Super Rugby games are also likely to start for Los Pumas.
However, how are young players meant to come through and gain top flight experience when realistically they only have one side to play for if they want to gain international honours? It seems to me that this is a very short term view from Argentina that may yield short term gains but long-term will result in them struggling to compete at the top level.