Argentina coach Mario Ledesma launched a scathing attack on Rugby Championship bosses, claiming his side were “disrespected” after a captains photoshoot went ahead without anyone from the Pumas.
The event took place in Townsville on Friday to promote a double header of rugby action a day later with Australian skipper Michael Hooper, New Zealand’s Ardie Savea and South Africa’s Siya Kolisi smiling and joking in front of the cameras.
But Argentina captain Julian Montoya was absent, as the team had not yet arrived in the northern Queensland town.
A fuming Ledesma said on Saturday night it should not have gone ahead without an Argentinian representative.
“The boys and staff felt really disrespected,” he said, raising the issue without being prompted after his team crashed 27-8 to the Wallabies that evening, in their fifth straight defeat.
“We’re not asking for much. Last year when South Africa pulled out [of the tournament], 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.
“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.”
It is understood previous efforts to stage the shoot while the teams were based on Queensland’s Gold Coast fell through due to logistical challenges and it was rescheduled for Townsville.
But a change to Argentina’s flight meant no one from the Pumas could make it.
“We spent three weeks in a one-hour radius to get to the picture and all of a sudden we’re 1,400km away, cannot get here and they take the freaking picture,” said Ledesma.
“I don’t know if it was Rugby Australia or [governing body] Sanzaar or whatever, but it’s just disrespectful and it hurts a lot . . . the only thing we’re asking is to get treated fairly and with respect and obviously in this case it wasn’t that way.”
Rugby Australia said it was aware of Ledesma’s anger and they would discuss the matter with Sanzaar.