Jaguares coach Gonzalo Quesada has hit back at claims the South American franchise was “cheating” by featuring the majority of Argentina’s national team in their squad in the Super Rugby competition.
Former Wallaby Phil Kearns claimed on Fox Sports the Jaguares were being allowed to “make a mockery” of Super Rugby, with 20 of the 23 players they fielded on the weekend having represented the national team at some stage in their career.
“They’re the national team … they shouldn’t even be in the comp,” Kearns said. “If you want national teams put them in a comp. This is a provincial competition. I think Argentina have been incredibly smart and have hoodwinked the rest of SANZAAR, because they’re going to have a magnificent World Cup team.”
Quesada told the Sydney Morning Herald that while he respected Kearns opinion, the former Wallaby hooker did not understand the continuing problems in the game in Argentina which is “still really far behind”.
Quesada explained: “I admire him and I respect his opinion, and I understand the argument and the reason he’s giving … but I think we have to have a deeper look at the whole picture. I was surprised and a bit disappointed by those comments.
“What is disappointing is when he says something like we cheated or we cheated to SANZAAR or there was a strategy. The idea was to get an Argentinian team to be better. We are improving year by year. We are really thankful [to be in Super Rugby]. It’s a bit disappointing.”
The Jaguares have recorded eight wins from 13 starts and are top of the South African conference which has prompted Kearns claims and there is a chance one of the Super Rugby knock out games could be staged in Argentina.
“If you see the reality of Argentinian rugby we are really still quite behind,” added Quesada. “We have players abroad and we don’t have our best players. We have at least six or seven players who were in under-20s last year that had no experience in Super Rugby or international experience. It’s a developing team and I think it’s a great opportunity for us.
“Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were really generous giving us the opportunity to play this tournament. We don’t have enough players to have more than one franchise. We don’t have the infrastructure or players. We struggle to have a competitive team and that’s the reality. I don’t know if Phil’s opinion is shared by other Australians and I would like to know if a lot of people in Australia that feel the same way that the Jaguares shouldn’t be there. It was quite disappointing and while we are performing we are still really far behind.”
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