Surprise new destination for Jaguares
NEWS: The Jaguares have become the unfortunate collateral damage of the disbanding of the Super Rugby enterprise.
New Zealand and Australia are forging ahead together, while South Africa has joined forces with PRO Rugby in Europe.
The latest reports out of Ireland, however, suggest that top-tier rugby may not be off the table for the Argentinian side.
While a Jaguares XV has joined the Superliga Americana de Rugby and will compete with sides from throughout South America, the bulk of the squad that have been involved in Super Rugby for the past five years has left the team for greener pastures.
The SLAR is very much a second-tier competition and while it may evolve into something great in the future, the level of rugby on offer simply isn’t up to the standard that Argentina’s top players demand – nor would there be enough funding to keep some of the world’s best players involved in a tournament that’s only in its infantile stages.
As such, the Super Rugby AU, Top 14, English Premiership and PRO 14 competitions have been inundated with former Jaguares.
According to a report from The 42, however, the Union Argentina de Rugby (UAR) wish to maintain the Jaguares franchise and have approached PRO Rugby about a potential inclusion in future competitions.
The team would be based out of Bilbao in Spain, reducing any concerns about travel demands.
Per the report, any potential introduction to the Pro14 could take up to two years, but the UAR would ideally like to streamline the side’s introduction.
South African sides the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and Lions are set to be added to the PRO14 next season, but ongoing travel issues due to the coronavirus pandemic could throw a spanner in the works.
The Cheetahs and Kings joined the tournament two years ago, but have both had to pull out from the current season due to travel issues.
Neither side will take part in the expanded competition.
A revival of the Jaguares would be welcomed with open arms by the rest of the world. The Argentinian side struggled in their inaugural year playing Super Rugby in 2016 but made it to the grand final of the 2019 competition.
Private equity firm CVC owns a 28 percent share in the Pro14 and are reportedly keen on further expanding the competition due to the potential extra revenue that could be generated.
Of course, with the Jaguares’ former players now signed elsewhere, the UAR would have a mission on their hands getting a team together in the near future – which could delay the Jaguares’ possible inclusion.
By Sam Smith, RugbyPass