GREG GROWDEN March 27, 2010 EXCLUSIVE Argentina's admission to what will become the Four Nations tournament appears certain after International Rugby Board committees this week approved funding and regulation conditions that will allow all leading Pumas to appear against the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks from 2012. SANZAR officials were adamant that they would approve Argentina's inclusion in the southern hemisphere tournament only if the Pumas were able to field their best team. The major stumbling block has been that most of the Pumas are contracted to European clubs, who would have to release them so that they could play in the Four Nations, which will be held from August to October. SANZAR and its broadcasters were concerned that the clubs would not release the players, and that the Argentine team appearing in the tournament would be second rate. The IRB's regulation No.9, dealing with the availability of players for international duty, has various windows, including those covering the Six Nations and June tours to the southern hemisphere. But there is not one for the August to October period, when Argentinian players would need releases from their northern hemisphere clubs. Major progress was made this week in Dublin, where meetings of the IRB rugby and the regulations committees recommended that regulation No.9 be amended so that clubs must release their Argentinian players for the Four Nations. This recommendation will go to the IRB council meeting on May 13, and is expected to be passed. The IRB executive committee has also approved that SANZAR be compensated $US2.5 million ($2.7m) a year for four years, with no conditions attached, for agreeing to Argentina's inclusion in a home-and-away series that will result in the Wallabies playing regularly in Buenos Aires. The bulk of the IRB funding will go to Australia, which stands to lose the most financially. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa play each other three times in a season, but some of these Tests will have to be dropped to accommodate internationals against Argentina. ARU officials do not have to be reminded that a Pumas Test does not have the same pull in Australia as a Bledisloe Cup or Mandela Cup fixture, and that numerous areas of revenue, including gate receipts, could be hit dramatically. The compensation will partly cover the anticipated drop in revenue. The meetings also agreed that the international match schedule involving the northern hemisphere teams travelling to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand be altered from 2011 to 2016 to allow ''mini tours''. It has been agreed that teams such as England, France and Wales play three Tests in June, with the tourists also playing midweek matches, most probably against Super 14 provinces. This will provide greater interest than the present schedule, in which several national teams travel south and play either one or two Tests before heading home. The quality of these tours have also been affected by the northern countries sending sub-standard line-ups, but it is envisaged that the mini tours will encourage them to send their best players. They will begin in 2012, with Wales to play three Tests in Australia, as well as midweek games.