With the excitement of an incredibly successful Rugby World Cup still in everybody’s minds, international rugby continues in the Peruvian capital of Lima on Sunday, with the 15th South American Rugby B Championship kicking off eight days after Richie McCaw lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham.
The Peruvian Tumis will host Ecuador, Venezuela and defending champions Colombia - the sides ranked fifth to ninth in South America - with the winner having the opportunity to move into the A section of the regional championship via a repechage match against Brazil in São Paulo on 12 December.
Peru, who first played international rugby in the second year of the South American Championship back in 1958, will also use this tournament to further develop the game in a country where the potential is massive. “Having seen the World Cup on television, rugby is an attractive sport and we have sporting facilities in various districts where our children can now play it,” said Saúl Barrera Ayala, President of the Peruvian National Sports Institute at the tournament launch.
The B section of the South American Rugby Championship was launched in 2000, to cater for teams not strong enough to challenge the likes of Los Pumas, Chile, Uruguay and at times Paraguay.
Peru is the only nation to have played in all 14 of the previous editions and will endeavour to win it for the second time, following their only previous success in 2010 in Medellín, Colombia.
Colombia lead the way
The winner is based on results from a two-year cycle, and Colombia, the highest ranked of the four competing teams, took top honours on home soil in 2014. So competitive were Colombia that they won all three matches with an aggregate points difference of +179.
“It is a serious challenge for us as we need more and more international competition. This South American Championship will move us a step closer to the A Section,” said Colombia’s Brayan Campiño, a member of last year’s table-topping team.
José María Pareja will lead a Peruvian team that began preparations in February and recently returned from a tour to Argentina. “I am certain we will be the champions, as this is a very solid team. This is the first time that we have a real chance to win at home,” he said.
The round robin tournament, run by the re-named Sudamérica Rugby (formerly CONSUR) begins on Sunday 8 November, with the next two rounds scheduled for the following Wednesday and Saturday.
All of the matches will be played at Colegio Newton, in La Molina, in the outskirts of Peru’s capital. The home side starts their quest for glory against Venezuela, a team they lost to last year.
Ecuador will hope to be more competitive than they were against Colombia a year ago, when they were soundly beaten 112-0 on their debut at this level, in the opening match of the tournament.
“We have about 70 per cent of the team that won promotion to the B section two years ago and that went to Colombia last season. Our plan is to work on what we are have as a team and from there go out to win the tournament,” said Ecuador’s Heccer Benavides. “We must travel with that goal.”
South American Rugby B Championship 2015 fixtures
8 November: Game 1 - Colombia v Ecuador (14:00), Game 2 - Peru v Venezuela (16:00)
11 November: Loser Game 1 v Winner Game 2 (14:00), Winner Game 1 v Loser Game 2 (16:00)
14 November: Third place play-off (14:00), final (16:00)
Standings from 2014
1. Colombia - 9 pts
2. Venezuela - 6
3. Peru - 3
4. Ecuador - 0
*all kick-off times are local
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