The tournament returns for its fourth season

Super Rugby Americas 2024 will get underway next month and it is back for its fourth season. A South and North American franchise-based tournament featuring seven teams from six countries which starts on 16 February with its conclusion on 14 June. 

The tournament had its first complete season in 2021 (it debuted in 2020 but it was called off due to Covid with only two rounds played) when it was still known as Súper Liga Americana de Rugby and then it only comprised of teams from South America.

Read more: How to watch the Six Nations wherever you are in the world

In 2022, it evolved to its current form which includes a team from the United States of America and one more from Argentina (Jaguares were replaced by the Pampas XV and Dogos), expanding the number of fixtures and calendar. There have been talks about Canadian and Mexican teams joining in the future, as well Colombia being brought back in.

The fourth season will be spread over 14 rounds – each team plays 12 games with two byes – with the top four teams earning qualification for the semi-finals, to be played on the 7-8 June. The final will be played on 14 June. 

The seven clubs are the Argentinian Dogos XV (Córdoba) and Pampas XV (Buenos Aires); the Uruguayan and current champions Peñarol (Montevideo), Paraguay’s Yacare XV (Asunción), the Brazilian Cobras Brasil Rugby (Jacareí), Chile’s Selknam (Santiago) and the American Raptors (Glendale, Colorado).

Peñarol were first crowned champions in 2022, retaining their title in 2023, while the defunct Argentinian Jaguares XV defeated the Uruguayans to write their names as the first-ever SLAR/Super Rugby Américas title holders. 

Uruguay’s success in the 2023 Rugby World Cup was built on the back of a centralised contract program of the Uruguayan Rugby Union, channelling professional players to Peñarol, the two-time winners of the Super Rugby Américas. 

Even if all of the contestants have rosters made up of local players – most with semi-pro and professional contracts – there were a couple of big moves, as Selknam had to let go of their flamboyant fly-half Rodrigo Fernández (who joined Petrarca Padova in the Italian Serie A Élite side) and Santiago Videla (MLR Miami Sharks), hiring Penãrol’s former fly-half Nicolás Róger (a sharp-shooter with seriously good handling skills) as a replacement.

The Super Rugby Américas champions did not only lose Róger but also World Cup prop Diego Arbelo (who moved to Rugby Colorno 1975), pushing them towards a roster renewal with the help of some of their best U20 talent such as hooker Joaquín Myszka. They also hired former Pumas legend Leonardo Senatore as the new head coach as Pablo Bouza left the union post-RWC to join the Spanish union.

Yacare have made some good off-season dealings, as the Paraguayans hired former Argentina, Toulon, and Raptors full-back Ramiro Moyano, alongside hooker Axel Zapata and scrum-half Juan Strada. 

The Cobras have made some tweaks to the roster, welcoming back lock Ben Donald after a short stint in Ireland. While promising utility back Lorenzo Massari left Italy to finally play for the Brazilian franchise. They retained the only Colombian player in the league, wing Alain Altahona, for another season. 

Argentinians Dogos and Pampas XV face different realities, as the latter was the franchise that has made a lot of changes to their roster. They have added the likes of Argentina international Eliseo Morales, former Mont de Marsan and Petrarca Padova loose forward Santiago Montagner and Tomás Bernasconi. 

As for the American Raptors, Rufus McLean joined the American side for the upcoming season, finding a new club after being fired from the Glasgow Warriors as a result of his conviction for domestic abuse. 

The season starts this weekend, and for countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay the Super Rugby Américas is seen as the bedrock to fight for a spot in the 2027 Rugby World Cup cycle.  

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