MELBOURNE: Six Argentine players and two staff have been kicked out of the rugby championship for violating the tournament’s health regulations after making unauthorized travel to the New South Wales resort of Byron Bay, tournament organizers said on Thursday.
The tournament, which also includes Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, is operating under strict biosecurity protocols in the northeastern state of Queensland, Australia due to COVID-19.
SANZAAR said the group had broken tournament rules when they traveled to the Queensland state border with New South Wales on Wednesday to travel to Byron Bay, a popular tourist destination.
“SANZAAR has informed Argentine Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible for further participation in the Rugby Championship because they have violated the rules of the tournament,” SANZAAR said in a statement.
“The world is deeply disappointed that such a breach has occurred in view of the clear regulations to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff and compliance with all relevant health orders.”
The Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) said the players’ group included Pablo Matera, Sebastian Cancellier, Joaquín Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcura, Santiago Medrano and Santiago Sosino, team manager K Lucas Chiocarelli and video analyst Rodrigo Martínez.
He was forced to stay overnight at a New South Wales hotel after police returned to the Queensland border after failing to produce required documents.
SANZAAR said they would remain in the state until joining the rest of Argentina’s squad on Sunday before departing Australia.
“All are completely healthy, staying in a hotel in the area, waiting for their condition to be resolved,” the UAR said. Getting the players back to camp was a “top priority”.
“In parallel, an internal process has begun to clarify what happened and determine the associated responsibilities.”
Players will miss Argentina’s final rugby championship match against Australia in the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Argentina have lost all their five matches played in the tournament.
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