Pablo Matera: Argentina set to reinstate flanker as captain after suspensions lifted
Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino were initially suspended for discriminatory posts between 2011 and 2013; Trio not named in Argentina squad to play Australia in final game of Tri-Nations on Saturday, live on Sky Sports
Last Updated: 03/12/20 11:52am
Pablo Matera is set to be reinstated as Pumas captain after the Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) rescinded its sanction against him and two team-mates for "discriminatory and xenophobic" comments in historical social media posts.
Matera, along with lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino, were suspended on Tuesday for comments made between 2011 and 2013 which disparaged Black people and those from other South American nations.
Upon review, the UAR said the players had shown themselves to be "people with firm and upright values, worthy of being part of our team".
They added the players had faced a disciplinary hearing and their remorse, combined with their good behaviour in the years since the comments were posted, meant the suspension could be lifted.
However, the trio were left out of the Pumas side to face Australia in Saturday's Tri-Nations match against Australia, live on Sky Sports, with centre Jeronimo de la Fuente replacing Matera as captain.
"The three players expressed their deep regret, reiterated the apology, ratified that it is not what they think and that it was a reckless act typical of immaturity," the UAR said in a statement.
"However, they are fully responsible and responsible… and seek to amend the damage caused."
Flanker Matera has won 69 caps and led Argentina to their first-ever victory over New Zealand on November 14.
The UAR added the disciplinary process into the three players continues and the commission will arrive at a final decision in the next few days.
Ledesma: Matera 'still the captain'
Head coach Mario Ledesma said that decision had been made in agreement with UAR to protect the players after they were subjected to a "lot of hate" during a week he described as a "rollercoaster ride of emotions".
"All I can say about these three fine players and great men is that they are great human beings," he said.
"They have been suffering a lot this week, their families have been suffering a lot this week, and it's really sad to see. Obviously, they acknowledge what they did and they are really regretful and ashamed of what they did, and we all are."
Ledesma said the players had changed in the years since they made the posts.
"I can say they are not the same people they were when they were 17, 18-years-old," Ledesma added. "They are great men, family men - Pablo has a kid now, he's a great leader and a great example.
"Pablo won't be playing this game but he's still the captain."
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (c), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Excurra; 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo, 2 Julian Montoya, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Marcos Kremer, 6 Santiago Grondona, 7 Facundo Isa, 8 Rodrigo Bruni.
Replacements: 16 Jose Luis Gonzalez, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Francisco Gorrissen, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Dominic Miotti, 23 Santiago Chocobares.