Argentine Rugby Union has suspended captain Pablo Matera and two other members of the national team over "discriminatory and xenophobic" comments published by the players on social media.

Matera, along with Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, have been stood down immediately over the historic posts, which date back to 2011 and 2012.

The flanker has also been stripped of the captaincy. The announcement comes just days before the Pumas' Tri Nations finale against Australia on Saturday.

Argentine Rugby Union said in a statement: "The Argentine Rugby Union strongly condemns the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social networks and, meeting urgently, the Board of Directors resolves: In the first place, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and request the staff to propose a new captain to the Board of Directors.

"Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.

"Third, initiate a disciplinary process for the three mentioned players, in charge of the Disciplinary Commission of the Argentine Rugby Union.

"Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the integrity as people that the three showed during this time in Los Pumas, from the Argentine Rugby Union we condemn any expression of hatred and consider it unacceptable that those who express them represent our country."
Matera deleted his Twitter account in the wake of the announcement, however he did post an apology on Instagram.

He wrote: "I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote.

"At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 years ago.

"I'm also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support."

Matera has led the Pumas since 2018, recently guiding them to a maiden win over New Zealand.