SYDNEY (AP) — Super Rugby's governing body and Rugby Australia have apologized to Argentina for a photo shoot snub that infuriated Pumas coach Mario Ledesma.
Ledesma, a former assistant coach with the Wallabies, criticized the decision to proceed with a Rugby Championship captain’s photo shoot in Townsville last Friday despite the fact Argentina had yet to arrive due to a flight delay.
SANZAAR claims the decision to push ahead with the shoot was so that a photo of New Zealand captain Ardie Savea and Springboks leader Siya Kolisi standing together could be taken ahead of the 100th test between the two nations.
A photo of Wallabies captain Michael Hooper in a First Nations jersey was also taken with the purpose of using it to promote Saturday's game against Argentina, which Australia won 27-8.
SANZAAR said Monday there was a communication breakdown when a photograph was taken of the three attending captains minus the Argentina skipper alongside the Rugby Championship trophy.
That photo upset Argentina, which has made big sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the Rugby Championship could go ahead with four teams.
“We were away from home three or four months and we’re the only team that haven’t played at home for more than two years," Ledesma said after Saturday's loss to Australia. “We’re always travelling, we never complain but we feel sometimes we’re getting treated with disrespect and we just continue, cop it on the chin."
SANZAAR and Rugby Australia issued a joint apology on Monday to address Ledesma's complaints.
“SANZAAR and Rugby Australia take full responsibility for this error and acknowledge that it should not have happened and fully understands Argentina Rugby’s disappointment over this matter after the image appeared in the media,” the statement read.
“SANZAAR would like to publicly state that no disrespect was intended and indeed would like to thank Argentina Rugby for its unselfish and committed contribution to The Rugby Championship, highlighted by the fact that it has played all matches away from home over the last two years.”
Argentina has lost all five Rugby Championship matches during this tournament with one match left against Australia on Saturday on the Gold Coast south of Brisbane.
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