Argentina becomes IRL Observer Member

Argentina is the latest country to be granted International Rugby League Observer Member status and is already working towards the next level of membership as the game expands in the South American nation.

The Asociación Argentina de Rugby League was founded six years ago and after navigating the uncertainty of COVID now runs a five-team competition, known as the Argentina Super League, with the possibility of more teams joining this year.

The AARL is officially recognised by the Argentine Government, and last December hosted a men’s international fixture against Brazil, which showed the quality of the Argentine players and the efficacy of a domestic league.

“Last year we had four teams; the champions, Panteras del Norte, the runners-ups, Mandinga de Capital, Osos del Oeste and the Fénix del Sur,” AARL vice-president and head coach Pablo Aguilera said.

“This year we have an addition, Camioneros Club, that is making its debut on March 24. Also, we might have one or two teams to add … but they are not confirmed yet.

“Internationally, we have already participated in two South American Championships, travelling 56 hours by bus to Chile, and to Sao Paolo with a huge effort.”

Aguilera said the AARL Board, led by president Emiliano Rodríguez, was working hard, and had invested their own money and time to develop the game in Argentina.

“We received an Anotofagasta province team once and Brazil twice, giving them transportation, accommodation, welcome dinner, and all involved in game day – transportation, insurance, doctor, ambulance, RL marked pitch, and, of course, the meal afterwards [the third half].

“We also have a women’s team starting, or re-starting. And we are always inviting national teams and even local clubs to come over. We know we are quite far away, but we have all our hospitality, as we have shown.”

AARL officials have held discussions with Australian and British coaches and former players about coaching and development, while the IRL and South American Championships organising committee helped to establish a Match Officials course.

Aguilera said: “Locally, we have travelled to three provinces to show the game, we had more than 30 clinics in the Buenos Aires region, and, most importantly, we are in the second year of our local competition, the Argentina Super League.

“We are seeking agreements for a field to have our own pitch and we are always looking for new places to take rugby league in the huge [geographically speaking] country we have.”