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A South American version of Major League Rugby looks to be set to launch in 2020, as the Liga Sul Americana de Rugby (LAR) has announced its formation.
This will be a pro league incorporating teams from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The thing about this, of course, is that Argentina is a much bigger dog in this fight that anyone else. One of the main reasons a continental pro league hasn't emerged is because rugby in Argentina is so strong.
So strong, in fact, that Argentina put a team in Super Rugby (where they do just fine, thanks), and the Argentina XV team in the Americas Rugby Championship is close to a 3rd-string outfit. While the Argentina national team is off beating South Africa, why does Argentina in itself have to worry about anyone else?
It has taken some years for the other countries to get close enough to make this a possibility. Chilean rugby has improved, as has rugby in Brazil and Paraguay, to an extent. Meanwhile, Uruguay as a rugby nation has fallen off a little bit. Now Uruguay realized it has to look beyond its borders for good competition.
And Argentina? It's not that things are bad in Argentina, but this rugby nation does want to keep talented young players in the country and playing. That's where a domestic (South American) pro league comes in.
Reports are that there might be an MLR-LAR crossover. That's possible, but woefully premature at this point given how the MLR is only a year old, the LAR hasn't started playing yet, and it costs a lot of money to travel the thousands of miles involved, maybe these leagues should worry about their own patch before traveling.
Having said that, a cross-league championship, like the top two from each league facing off in a reasonable-sized stadium might actually be a good draw.