Rugby Championship: Six Argentina players expelled from tournament after trip to Byron Bay

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Flanker Pablo Matera was one of the players who were expelled

Two members of staff and six players from Argentina were expelled by the Rugby Championship after they violated tournament health rules by going to Byron Bay without permission.

Due to Covid-19 cases in Queensland, strict biosecurity protocols were used for the tournament.

The players did however cross into New South Wales to see the tourist attraction.

Pablo Matera, a former Pumas captain, was part of the group.

Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) stated that the group also included Sebastian Cancelliere and Joaquin Diaz Bonilla as well Felipe Ezcurra and Santiago Socino. The team manager Lucas Chioccarelli was also present, along with Rodrigo Martinez, who is a video analyst.

After being stopped by police at the state border for not having the proper documentation, the group was forced to stay in a NSW hotel on Wednesday night.

Sanzaar, which oversees the Rugby Championship, stated: "Sanzaar informed Argentina Rugby that all members in this group are now ineligible for further participation in The Rugby Championship because they have violated tournament rules.

"Sanzaar is extremely disappointed that such an incident has occurred, given the clear rules in place to ensure the safety and health of all staff and players, as well as compliance with all applicable health orders."

These six players won't be able to participate in Argentina's final Rugby Championship match with Australia on Saturday. They will stay in NSW until Sunday when the team leaves the country.

The tournament is still not over for the Pumas.

After Rugby Australia and Sanzaar apologised to Argentina for their expulsion, the players were sent home days later.

Australia's head coach Dave Rennie has placed Greg Holmes, a 38-year old prop, on the bench for his second game since 2016. Back-rower Sean McMahon will be his first since 2017, for Saturday's match.

Holmes will be the oldest Wallaby since World War Two. He joined the squad in August to assist younger players.

Rennie had first met him for a beer in Perth and asked if he could bring his notes to camp for coaching. But Rennie later invited him to become a player.