Argentina all set to be integrated into 2012 tournament

The International Rugby Board have ratified a financial package that moves Argentina a step closer to joining an expanded Tri Nations event.

The International Rugby Board's executive committee have ratified a financial package that moves Argentina a step closer to joining an expended Tri Nations competition from 2012. The package, worth US$10million (Dh36.7m), is to support the addition of the Pumas to the tournament, which contains New Zealand, Australia and the world champions, South Africa, who operate under the Sanzar (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) banner.

Bernard Lapasset, the IRB chairman, had announced the proposal earlier this month and the money will be split into four annual payments from 2012 to 2015. There has been a clamour to allow the Pumas to join either the Six Nations or Tri Nations since their outstanding performances at the 2007 World Cup in France, where they beat the host nation twice, and Ireland and Scotland on their way to a third-place finish, with the IRB establishing a Working Accord to help that process.

"This announcement represents another significant milestone in the process of Argentina's integration into the Tri Nations and is an extremely exciting development for the Union Argentina de Rugby [UAR]," said Lapasset. "The IRB recognises the substantial strategic financial and operational commitment that the Sanzar Unions are making to assist Argentina's inclusion and we will continue to work in close collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure a sustainable financial platform to make Argentina's transition as smooth as possible."

The UAR and Sanzar have also asked the game's governing body to amend their regulations on player release to ensure that the Argentina internationals are available for the tournament, a matter that will be looked at by an IRB Council meeting on May 12.