Old school! Australia A set to make a return in the lead up to The Rugby Championship

Fri, 11/09/2020, 06:54 am
Christy Doran
by Christy Doran
Australia A could play their first match since 2008 to allow Argentina to have a warm-up match. Photo: Getty Images
Australia A could play their first match since 2008 to allow Argentina to have a warm-up match. Photo: Getty Images

Australia A could play their first match since 2008 after Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke said some warm-up fixtures against Argentina's Pumas were being considered in the lead up to The Rugby Championship.

Given no professional rugby has been able to be played in Argentina since COVID-19 suspended the official Super Rugby tournament back in March, the Pumas are on the hunt to play some warm-up fixtures ahead of November's Rugby Championship.

On Friday afternoon, the TRC was awarded to Australia and Argentina, who is coached by former Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma, has come knocking on Rugby Australia's door.

"Certainly Argentina's asked for some warm-up games here in Australia and we would be more than happy to help arrange those, so that's being discussed right now," Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke told reporters on Friday afternoon.

"Argentina unfortunately have not been able to play any rugby, so those matches will be really important for them.

"I believe South Africa are looking at getting a domestic competition up and running in the coming weeks, so they believe that they're going to have some lead in games in South Africa before they travel."

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Asked what those fixtures could be, Clarke said that the Australia A concept be revitalised and that it represented a good opportunity for the country's young depth to continue to grow. 

"Well we're possibly looking at a couple of games against an Australian A team and then one of the Super Rugby clubs," Clarke added.

"At this point of time that's what we're looking to deliver for Argentina, which is more than satisfactory to them and would also enable us to showcase some of our emerging talent.

"We're still working on those plans, they're not finalised yet but we'll get close to those in the next couple of weeks."

Australia A hasn't played since 2008, when they went down to New Zealand's Maori 21-18 in Brisbane.

Only last year the Pumas played Sydney Shute Shield side Randwick at Coogee Oval in the lead up to the World Cup in Japan.

Alarm bells sounded early on Friday when Argentina announced that Ledesma and another seven players had tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic.

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But Clarke downplayed the likelihood that the Pumas would be forced to abandon the six-week tournament. 

"Not at this point because we're still far enough out from the tournament to be able to manage that," he said.

"The Pumas have gone into a bubble arrangement over there, they're having regular testing and those that have tested positive, be that asymptomatic or otherwise, are being removed from the environment and separated. That will happen during the course of them being in the bubble and we anticipate then that they'll all be negative and ready to go sooner than later, and we'll be able to fulfill all of the health requirements and the protocols in Australia."

With the Wallabies to play two Tests against the All Blacks in October ahead of The Rugby Championship in New Zealand, it's likely that any players included in an Australia A side would be likely selected from outside of Dave Rennie's squad.

Rennie will name his Wallabies squad on Sunday afternoon.


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