Pablo Matera Jaguares Super Rugby

Pablo Matera on his way to a Man of The Match performance for the Jaguares against the Sharks in Super Rugby. Image: Anesh DEBIKY / AFP.

Jaguares are set for Super Rugby return

The Argentine Super Rugby franchise, the Jaguares, looks set to make a return to the competition, and they could be back as soon as next season.

Pablo Matera Jaguares Super Rugby

Pablo Matera on his way to a Man of The Match performance for the Jaguares against the Sharks in Super Rugby. Image: Anesh DEBIKY / AFP.

The collapse of the Melbourne Rebels may pave the door for the restoration of the Jaguares, the Super Rugby team based in Buenos Aires.

And those wheels may start spinning quite soon, or at least faster than Argentina Rugby president Gabriel Travelaglini anticipated when he confirmed there was an offer on the table for the squad to return in 2026.

Jaguares to return to Super Rugby 

With the Melbourne club’s financial woes forcing it into voluntary administration in late January, the powers that be have been busy exploring potential solutions to keep the competition’s 12-team format.

“We have the invitation, but it would be from 2026 because they have already closed the current one,” Travelaglini said last year.

“It is planned to set up a franchise.

“We have the commitment that they will receive us and that we will play games at home and away.”

The welcome party

However, NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson revealed that the plot has moved along in an appearance on Rugby Direct.

It seems that 2026 is the likely return date.

“Most of the work about the future shape of the competition in terms of number of teams and formats is focused on 2026 and the next media rights cycle,” he said on the Rugby Direct podcast.

“Clearly the Rebels’ challenges have meant some of those conversations have been brought forward a little bit. We’re not 100 per cent sure around where the Rebels’ future sits but it’s significantly challenged at the moment.

“It’s too early to say what the number of teams are going to be. We need to find out exactly where the Rebels are at and then work through the rest of the year.

“There’s lots of different conversations as it relates to South America, North America, Japan as potentially interested parties, but we need a bit more detail on that before we can comment too much further.”

Jaguares Super Rugby return will take lessons from the past

Robinson noted that all past experiments, including the Jaguares’ previous participation in the tournament from 2016 to 2019, had taught them significant lessons and shaped how choices will be made in the future.

“When we talk about the fans, that’s not great for the identity and purpose of the competition. As I share some of the conversations about new territories coming into the competition those lessons are certainly front of mind.

“Having in-depth analysis, great data, around what any new entrant or expansion might mean is a foundation from decisions in the past.”

The Jaguares were founded in 2015 and were the first Argentine team to play in SANZAAR’s Super Rugby competition. They participated from the 2016 Super Rugby season onwards.

Their best finish came in the 2019 season when they were the runners up, losing to the Crusaders 19–3 in the Super Rugby Final, played on 6 July 2019.

Their time in Super Rugby came to an end at the outset of the pandemic.

With no competition emerging for them to compete in, players moved to different clubs in Europe and the national group disintegrated.

The Jaguares disbanded permanently in December 2022 due to the expansion of Super Rugby Americas, dividing into two new teams, Dogos XV and Pampas XV.