Argentina’s Super Rugby franchise making its debut in 2016 will be called the Jaguares, the Argentine Rugby Union’s (UAR) general manager Greg Peters said on Thursday.
The southern hemisphere Super Rugby championship is expanding from 15 teams to 18 for the new season with Japan’s Sunwolves and Southern Kings of South Africa joining the Jaguares in boosting the competition’s numbers.
The Super format is also changing to ensure teams play a greater number of matches against their nearest rivals.
New Zealander Peters confirmed the Jaguares squad would be made up entirely of home-grown players.
“There will be no foreign players in Los Jaguares,” he said at Thursday’s press conference.
“It is incredible what Argentina rugby has done in the past years.”
Hooker Agustin Creevy, who last played for Worcester in England, will be the new captain while former international fly-half Felipe Contepomi will be one of head coach Paul Perez’s assistants.
Already 30 players have signed Jaguares contracts including the likes of Nicolas Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez, both of whom turned out for European champions Toulon last season.
Jaguares will eventually name a 45-man squad before the Super 18 season gets underway.
Creevy, who is also captain of the Argentine national team, the Pumas, said Super Rugby is the equivalent to basketball’s NBA.
“We will continue to train with the same sense of sacrifice (as the Pumas),” said Creevy.
Perez has set the team very broad goals for their first participation in the Super Rugby competition, which comes four years on from the national team’s inclusion in the Rugby Championship, formerly the Tri-Nations of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
He wants the team to “develop a style, understand this competition and go as far as possible”.
The UAR had previously said that only players contracted to the Jaguares, or rather those playing in Argentina, would be eligible for the national team but scrum-half Tomas Cubelli has been allowed to remain with Australia’s Brumbies.
But those players plying their trade in Europe rather than Super Rugby, such as Racing 92 wing Juan Imhoff and versatile Saracens back Marcelo Bosch, will no longer be picked for the Pumas.
The team will play at the 50,000-capacity Estadio Jose Amalfitani, home of the Velez Sarsfield football team in Buenos Aires.
Matches will be televised on ESPN in Latin America.
In October, Argentina reached the World Cup semi-finals for only the second time.