Ahead of the coming tour to Argentina of the English national team, the head of the local Rugby Union, (UAR) Luis Castillo admitted he was concerned about possible threats from militant groups in support of ‘Argentine Malvinas’ and which have been involved in violent actions.
“It is an issue which concerns the UAR and we have it in our agenda since the visit from the English team could generate possible incidents with activist groups that support the Malvinas Islands claims and condemn the British position”, said Castillo in an interview with the Argentina government official news agency Telam.
“If the rumours keep growing and are founded the UAR will have to consider some form of dialogue with the national government to talk about the issue and eventually request support”, he added.
Next June, the Argentine national team Los Pumas is scheduled to play England on two occasions: the 8th in Buenos Aires City and on the 15th in some city of the interior which still has to be confirmed.
“This is a very sensitive issue since only last week President Cristina Fernandez requested Pope Francis to get involved in the Malvinas issue”, underlined Castillo who added that “whenever the English rugby team visits Argentina there have always been possible threats or conflict rumours”
And if effectively “this aggressive attitude is confirmed against the English delegation it would have a great (negative) impact in Argentina and for the rest of the world. We must take all the necessary precautions in the event of such actions”.
Castillo then revealed that the UAR had received messages from different groups, such is the case of Quebracho, which promised to make a nuisance any possible optimal visit of the English team”.
The Quebracho group latest campaign has been against the cruise industry attacking offices in Buenos Aires that sold tickets that included the Falklands, as well as impeding or obstructing the docking and landing of cruise passengers in Argentine ports of vessels that have called in the Islands.
But Castillo also underlined that “the UAR had at no moment received any note or official presentation about the issue from the English rugby union”
The Daily Telegraph recently published that last February the Foreign Office cautioned the UK rugby football union to be careful when the ‘Rose’ team visits Argentina next June since “it could suffer aggressions” from certain activist groups involved in the Falklands’ claim.
“Fortunately so far there have been no problems and we hope nothing happens because it would tarnish Argentina’s image overseas and would be extremely negative for UAR, although the issue goes far beyond Argentine rugby” said Castillo.
The UAR head said “we have been warned of the possible incidents when the English team comes and that is why Agustin Pichot (one of Argentina’s great players) a few weeks ago was in Europe and sent a strong message of support to English rugby. We gave them guarantees about their safety when they come, as happens with all events organized by the UAR no matter from which country they are”.
Just a few days ago four representatives from the English rugby team visited Argentina to check on the logistics. “They were much interested in hotels, training fields and the stadiums where the games will be played”, revealed Castillo.
England will be hosting the next rugby world cup in 2015 and has been in four tours of Argentina. The last time Argentina and England met in a field was in the 2011 Cup in New Zealand when Los Pumas lost 13-9 to the ‘Rose’.