SANZAAR and Rugby Australia management have apologised to Argentina Rugby for taking a promotional photo for The Rugby Championship that omitted Argentina.
SANZAAR released a statement on Monday that attempted to outline how the photo, labelled ‘direspectful’ by an angry Los Pumas coach Mario Ledesma, came to be taken of captains Michael Hooper, Ardie Savea and Siya Kolisi.
“A promotional photograph featuring the captains of Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had been planned for the tournament once all matches had been rescheduled to be played in Queensland,” SANZAAR said in the statement.
“A photo session was organised for the day before the Round 5 matches in Townsville on Friday 24 September. Unfortunately, a late travel change then meant that the Argentina captain could not make the designated time for the photo session.
“It was determined that the photo session would proceed so that a photo of the New Zealand and South African captains could be taken to promote the historic 100th match between the two countries.
Furthermore, the Australian captain would be photographed in the First Nations jersey that the Australian team would wear in the match for local promotion. These photographs were taken and utilised by the media from the respective countries.
“However, during the photo session a communications breakdown led to a photograph being taken of the three attending captains with the trophy, minus the absent Argentina captain.
“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.
“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.”
After Argentina lost to the Wallabies on Saturday, Ledesma said: “The boys and staff felt really disrespected.
“We’re not asking for much; last year when South Africa pulled out, we came over here, went through strict lockdown.
“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.”
Australia and Argentina engaged in a feisty battle last week in the aftermath of the photo snub. They resume hostilities on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
“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,” Ledesma said.
“We spent three weeks in a one-hour radius to get to the picture and all of a sudden we’re 1400km away, cannot get here and they take the freaking picture.
“They made a video, everyone is joking, having a good time and our captain is not there…and nobody said anything.”