Mario Ledesma, the Argentina coach, has delivered more bad news for England by revealing he is ready to use previously ignored European based players to launch a powerful campaign at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Pumas are in the same pool as England, France, Tonga and the USA and have only occasionally, under Ledesma, called on their European based players, preferring to base their test squad on the Jaguares Super rugby franchise.
However, Ledesma told Midi Olympique that the Pumas will invoke the international release regulations to enable them to call up whoever they want for the Rugby Championship campaign which starts against New Zealand in July and leads into the World Cup.
That would allow Ledesma to include players such as Juan Imhoff (Racing) Santiago Cordero (Exeter), Juan Figallo (Saracens), Ramiro Herrera(Stade Francais), Mariano Galarza(Bordeaux), Facundo Isa (Toulon), Nicolás Sánchez (Stade Francais) and Benjamín Urdapilleta (Castres).
Ledesma said the policy he would adopt is much harsher than previously used and said: “It’s time to make things clear: we will not give away any more. We do not have to negotiate with European clubs on the release of internationals. When we want players, we will take them for four or five months if the need arises. If the French clubs want to continue to pay fortunes for these players, it’s their choice! And it does not matter if it falls on a championship final or a super important European Cup match
“For years, the players could not evolve for the Pumas if they were not part of the Jaguares. Recently, the rule has relaxed somewhat, in the sense that when the need arises, we summon expatriate players to a specific position. We will always favour the guy of the franchise. But if not, we will call on expatriates.
“When Stade Francais signed Ramiro Herrera, there was a “gentleman agreement”, an oral commitment between the two parties. Basically, the player would cross the national team to focus on the Top 14. But relying on Article 9 (the rule on the release of international players) we have advanced the following argument: or Ramiro Herrera is retained by its leaders and the club takes a big fine; or the player does not want to join us and that’s the end of his international career. On our four or five best players, we will never be able to compete with the mountains of Euros of French clubs”
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