Argentina have suffered a serious talent drain in recent times.
Some of their top stars have left Argentina due to the big money on offer in Europe. That was once the norm, but since the addition of the Jaguares, the Argentine Rugby Union have enforced a no-tolerance rule on overseas players.
This has resulted in a serious loss of both experience and talent for the Pumas. The loss of renowned players such as deadly winger Juan Imhoff has hurt the team. But the worst losses have been the young stars. These include 23 year-old loose forward Facundo Isa and 22 year-old fly-half Patricio Fernández, who holds the record for the most points scored at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship.
Who are the Argentines in question?
The major players that would be contention for selection if still playing in Argentina are:
- Marcelo Bosch (39 caps)
- Juan Imhoff (35 caps)
- Mariano Galarza (25 caps)
- Facundo Isa (24 caps)
- Juan Figallo (24 caps)
- Francisco Gomez Kodela (11 caps)
- Juan Pablo Socino (4 caps)
- Patricio Fernández (2 caps)
The “60/30 Cap” Rule
The idea of a player having had a minimum number of test caps is not a new concept. It is currently used by Australia, who require players to have gained 60 caps, and South Africa, who require players to have had 30. This has seen players such as Matt Giteau, Jaque Fourie and most recently Kurtley Beale return to play for their national sides. This, in particular, has paid dividends for Australia in the Rugby Championship, with Beale being a standout player.
However, the main issue with this policy is the time these overseas players spend with the team. They don’t have the time to bond with the team and learn the setups (although one might argue that this is the sign of a good player), which is especially pertinent in World Cup years.
Looking at Argentina specifically, a 60 cap rule would have no impact. A 30 cap rule would allow a few of their overseas players. However, arguably their worst loss, Facundo Isa, has just 24 caps. A 20 cap rule, therefore, seems the best option at this time. The main issue then is with just 20 caps, the players haven’t really given “service” to their team, as is the case with Australia particularly.
The Player Limit Concept
The other main idea that has been proposed around rugby forums has been one where a certain amount of spots are given for overseas players. This would allow the coach to select a certain number of players to join his squad, should they be willing.
This has to be a small number of players. If there is any more than 3-4 players, then too many top players will be sucked out of the Jaguares. It also doesn’t have the same moral idea that the cap law has, where players who have given outstanding service are rewarded.
However, what it does do well is reward performance. And that’s really what Test rugby is about, the best players in the world battling it out. Also considering the relative lack of Puma experience, this would seem to be the best option for the Argentine Rugby Union moving forward.
Author: David Lind
David lives in Perth, Australia, but is a born and bred Kiwi. He spends his time between studies and running the drinks for his cricket club. His articles on the 1014 allow him to let out his rugby feelings online rather than at his mates.