New Zealand rugby followers will get a closer look at Argentina next year when they join the Rugby Championship, but it might not be too long before their players are involved in our domestic competitions, too, thanks in part to new Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.
The man formerly in charge of Manawatu and New Zealand Under-20 has just returned from a week in the South American country where he, with Blues coach Pat Lam and Northland coach Adrian Ferris, ran a two-day coaching course at a Buenos Aires club for more than 200 locals.
The reason for the trip was two-fold, Rennie said. Through a contact Ferris had from way back, the trio were able to go over and impart their knowledge and help grow the game, and have a look at the Argentinian setup.
"It was a chance to get over there and find out a little bit about their systems and the quality of players and the environment they're in and that sort of thing," he said.
"It was a really good experience, they're good people, it was a chance for us to touch base, make some contacts over there.
"So, hopefully, we've now established some relationships and hopefully things can progress from there."
Rennie felt the International Rugby Board would want Argentinian players playing Super Rugby in order to strengthen the country's base.
"They'd need to come over here and play provincial rugby," he said. "And then from there you'd get a measure of whether they're good enough to have a crack at Super Rugby level."
The Argentinian coaches who attended the course were from a range of levels. It was Rennie's third time in the country. He's been there once as a player also for last year's Junior World Championship.
The renowned scrummaging ability of the Argentinians has many of their props snapped up by clubs in France and Italy, particularly after a strong showing by the Jaguars – Argentina's A team, who won last year's Vodacom Cup.
There was also interest from South Africa's third-tier competition behind Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.
Rennie said with the number of top-quality props who had left New Zealand in the last few years recruitment from Argentine in the future could be possible.
As for his and Lam's involvement meaning the Chiefs and Blues would be the benefactors of Argentinian player recruits, Rennie was doubtful.
"I know the Argentinian union will work through [the] New Zealand Rugby [Union]. I guess it's part and parcel of assisting the transition of Argentinian rugby into that Four Nations [Rugby Championship].
"It may give us a foot in the door," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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