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Six Pumas ruled out of Wallabies rematch after breaching tournament rules

By AAP

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Eight of Argentina’s Test rugby touring party are stuck in NSW after a border mix-up just days before their Rugby Championship clash with the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.

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Queensland Police confirmed discussions for their return with “other agencies” were under way after the group, which had travelled in a bus to a Byron Bay health retreat, tried to re-enter the Sunshine State without appropriate documentation before being forced to spend Wednesday night in Kingscliff.

Sanzaar have confirmed in a written statement that the six players involved won’t be able to play in the Pumas’ final game of the competition this weekend, a rematch against the Wallabies.

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The UAR have revealed the six players that travelled to Byron Bay were Pablo Matera, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino, Felipe Ezcurra, Sebastían Cancelliere and Joaquín Díaz Bonilla. Of that group, the former three were all used in the Pumas’ previous match with the Wallabies, with Medrano player at tighthead prop, Matera starting at number 8 and Socino covering hooker on the bench.

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.

Sanzaar’s full statement reads:

Following consultation with the Queensland Government, Sanzaar is aware that several members of the Argentinean rugby team were stopped at the Queensland border after a visit to Byron Bay in New South Wales on Wednesday 29 September. This travel across the state border is a direct breach of the present Queensland Government health orders and Sanzaar’s Rugby Championship tournament biosecurity plan.

Sanzaar has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participate further in The Rugby Championship as they have breached tournament rules.

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These team members, comprising six players and two team management staff, 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 group will now stay in New South Wales and will not be available for the round six match against Australia on the Gold Coast on Saturday. They will rejoin the rest of the touring squad on Sunday to fly back to Argentina.

The Australia versus Argentina match to be played at CBUS Super Stadium on Saturday 2 October will proceed. The Argentinean playing squad comprises 44 players and the team will announce the matchday squad for the match later today.

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. SANZAAR would like to thank the Queensland Government for their continued support and leadership in facilitating the Rugby Championship in the State over the last four consecutive weeks.

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.

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After Saturday’s loss to Australia in Townsville, coach Mario Ledesma said his side felt disrespected when a promotional photo and video shoot featuring the Wallabies, South African and New Zealand captains went ahead without them.

Governing body SANZAAR later apologised for the snub.

– with AAP

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Six Pumas ruled out of Wallabies rematch after breaching tournament rules

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