Rugby Test ban for Argentina day-trippers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The six Argentina players stuck in NSW after a border breach will remain there and miss Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.

Six players, including world-class flanker Pablo Matera, and two staff members were part of a group that travelled in a bus to a Byron Bay health retreat on Wednesday.

The contingent tried to re-enter Queensland without appropriate documentation before being forced to spend the night in Kingscliff.

Queensland Police confirmed discussions with "other agencies" for their return were ongoing.

The four-nation competition's governing body SANZAAR has declared, with 44 Argentine squad members on tour, the Test against Australia will go ahead without the now "ineligible" players.

The game is Los Pumas' last before they return to Argentina, with the eight players and staff to rejoin the squad when they fly home on Sunday.

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said the tournament's biosecurity protocols made it impossible to defend the actions of the stranded players and staff.

"The rules were clear for everybody," he said.

"It was a day off, they made that decision and the situation is what it is.

"Now we have to think of preparing the team in the best way possible."

A SANZAAR statement said the decision to travel across the Queensland-NSW border was a direct breach of health orders and tournament arrangements.

"These team members ... crossed the border on their scheduled day off without the permission of the tournament and without seeking clarity on their ability to re-enter Queensland under the existing COVID border restrictions," the statement said.

"SANZAAR is very disappointed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders."

Restrictions on cross-border travel were loosened this week, but only for residents of Tweed Heads, Byron Bay and Queensland travelling for work, education, care or essential shopping.

Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) released a statement on Thursday and said those involved - players Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Sebastian Cancelliere, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano and Santiago Socino and the support staff duo - were "all in perfect good health, lodged at a hotel in the area, waiting for their current condition to be solved".

"The Union is making its best efforts at the institutional level to provide assistance so as to facilitate the players' and staff members' return as soon as possible," the UAR said.

"At the same time, an internal process has been put into place in order to clarify and to determine responsibility for what has happened."

Ledesma later confimed: "We will talk about that when the tournament is finished. Now it's time for rugby."

Argentina have twice visited Australia in the past year despite the tough COVID-19 restrictions, arriving this time via stops for Tests in Wales and South Africa.

They upset New Zealand and drew twice with the Wallabies last year, but have lost all five Rugby Championship games in 2021, including a 27-8 loss to the Wallabies in Townsville last week.

ARGENTINA

Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou, Rodrigo Bruni, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Enrique Pieretto, Julian Montoya, Rodrigo Martinez

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gorrissen, Gonzalo Garcia, Domingo Miotti, Mateo Carreras

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting