With different goals, eight national teams will compete on Friday and Saturday in the Punta del Este Sevens in the Uruguayan seaside, the first step of the two-tournament new Sudamérica Rugby Sevens that will be completed next weekend at the Mackay School Grounds in Viña del Mar, on Chile's Pacific coastline.
As much as the title on offer to the winner of the circuit, two positions in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2017-18 qualifier in Hong Kong are on offer as well as an invitation to play in the Las Vegas and Vancouver Sevens later in the year. They will be competed for by Colombia, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil, with the tournament’s line-up completed by Argentina, USA, Canada and Fiji with the last three nations sending development sides.
“We are delighted to organise the Sudamérica Rugby Sevens with two well-established tournaments and by including Canada and USA we are fulfilling a regional ambition of further uniting both the south and the north of our huge continent,” said Sudamérica Rugby Chairman Marcelo Rodríguez.
The goal is to add two tournament in Rugby Americas North at the end of the year and thus form an Americas Rugby Series.
“Having Fiji represented has generated a lot of interest and will certainly help raise the standard of players and teams. It is an honour for us,” added Rodríguez.
The Punta del Este Sevens was first played in 1989, while the Viña Sevens is celebrating its 31st consecutive season. They will both have an international and a club section.
Santiago Gómez Cora, confirmed as Puma Sevens coach until Tokyo 2020, has selected a squad for Punta del Este with four young players that made their series’ debut in Dubai last month in Renzo Barbier, José Barros Sosa, Lautaro Bazán Vélez and Matías Osadczuk. They will be led by Nicolás Ménendez, a veteran of six series events.
A lot is expected of Fiji, a side that won at the Campus de Maldonado in January 2000 when the world series made its one and only stop in Uruguay, in what was only its third ever tournament. With no Olympic medallists in the squad, the development nature means that a lot will be expected from the players on this South American tour.
In that sense, Sean Liebich, Rugby Canada’s Manager of National Senior Men’s Sevens, agrees. “These two tournaments are critical opportunities for players to showcase their skills in a quality competition environment,” he said. His leading player will be Josiah Morra, who also made his series’ debut in Dubai.
The USA will be captained by JP Eloff, who played five games in the Americas Rugby Championship in 2016. Coach Paul Holmes believes that “South America is a great opportunity for national team coaches to get a look at players at a higher level on an international stage.
“It’s obviously expected that these players put their best foot forward and grasp the opportunity at hand.”
Brazil will have the only Olympian in French-born Laurent Bourda-Couhet, a 10-cap veteran of Os Tupis. At 22, he is the most experienced in a very young squad with players of the future.
The Colombian Tucanes will have a handful of their regular 15s stars that had a positive 2016, winning the Sudamericano B Championship in Peru and then beat Mexico in the first Americas play-off in the RWC 2019 qualification process. Led by Sebastián Mejía, they will have arguably the quickest player in the region in Jon Arley Urrutia.
Experienced Felipe Brangier, 28, will lead a Chile side that will travel with their national head coach and former Romania coach Bernard Charreyre, who will have with him Edmundo Olfos, a long-time recognised sevens coach.
Playing at home, Los Teros Sevens have high hopes with a young team under new coach. Francisco Bulanti retired after playing against Fiji in Milton Keynes during RWC 2015 and was appointed last month as Uruguay’s sevens coach.
“Becoming a core team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is very difficult, but we have a good opportunity. Uruguay has a history in sevens and that counts,” he said.
Argentina: Renzo Barbier (San Luis), José Barros Sosa (Tucumán Lawn Tennis), Lautaro Bazán Vélez (Córdoba Athletic), Lucas Belloto (Huirapuca), Felipe Del Mestre (Pucará), Juan Delguy (Pucará), Matías Ferro (Tucumán Lawn Tennis), Luciano González (La Tablada), Nicolás Menéndez (Lomas Athletic), Matías Osadczuk (SITAS), Mauro Perotti (CASI), Joaquín Riera (Los Tarcos). Coach: Santiago Gómez Cora.
Brazil: Ariel da Silva Rodrigues (Jacarei), Bruno Garcia da Silva (Jacarei), Daniel Lima da Silva (Rio Branco), Felipe Gomes Rosa (São Jose dos Campos), Laurent Bourda-Couhet (Bandeirantes), Lucas Drudi Romeu (Jacarei), Mateus Estrela Miller Tavares (Niteroi), Matheus Augusto de Souza Claudio (Jacarei), Matheus Cruz Vergueiro e Silva (Jacarei) , Matheus da Cruz Daniel (Jacarei) , Robert Aguinaldo Tenorio da Silva Santos (Pasteur) , Ronaldo da Silva Santos (Pasteur).
Canada: Jake Thiel, Josiah Morra, Kevin Vertkas, Riley DiNardo, Aaron McLelland, Aidan McMullan, Kainoa Lloyd, Brett Johnson, Aaron Hersant, Crosby Stewart, Andrew Battaglia, Kyle Lagasca. Coach: Lee Douglas.
Chile: Franco Velarde (Viña Rugby), Ignacio Silva Aninat (Stade Français), Bernardo Moltedo Fonzo (Old Macks), Felipe Brangier (PWCC), Felipe Verschae González (Viña Rugby), Nicolas Herreros Escudero (Wests Bulldogs), Marcelo Torrealba Otero (Old Boys)Benjamín Devidts (Old Boys), Francisco Urroz (Old Reds), Lucas Westcott (Old Boys), Francisco Metuaze (Sporting), Julio Blanc Schilling (Old Boys). Coach: Bernard Charreyre.
Colombia: Alejandro Vanegas Rodríguez, Sebastián Mejía, Andrés Felipe Alvarez Echeverri, Juan José Zapata Congote, Jhoan Sebastian Zurique Borja, Jhon Arley Urrutia Robledo, Juan Gabriel Dávila Metaute, Daniel Lopez Montoya, José Ricardo Ramirez Talero, Cristian Camilo Benítez, José Manuel Diosa Gómez, Brayan Campiño.
USA: Walt Elder (Kansas City Blues), Alex Elkins (PRO Rugby Ohio), JP Eloff (PRO Rugby Ohio), Alexander Faison-Donahoe (Kutztown University), Matt Hughston (PRO Rugby Ohio), Cody Jerabek (PRO Rugby Sacramento), Tua Laei (Bingham Young University), Chris Mattina (University of Delaware), Aladdin Schirmer (Central Washington University), Punnarah ‘Joey’ Sok (Columbus), Keaweamahi ‘Havea’ Unufe (Eagles Squad), Anthony Welmers (Eagles Sevens). Coach: Paul Holmes
Fiji: Seru Cavuilati, Mesulame Kunavula, Levani Kurumudu, Meli Rusa, Semisi Matawalu, Amenoni Nasilasila, Kalione Nasoko, Sevuloni Naturudregadrega, Timoci Sinate, Rusiate Tadulala, Alivereti Veitokani, Nacanieli Lalalaba.
Uruguay: Gabriel Puig, Guillermo Strauch, Mateo Tortorella, Santiago Civetta, Federico Cibils, Sebastián Jansen, Lucas Durán, Ian Schmidt, Ignacio Inchausti, Ignacio García, Francisco Berchesi, Martín Fitipaldo. Coach: Francisco Bulanti
RWC 2019 Tickets
RWC 2019 Official Ticketing site NOW LIVE
Fans can now register interest to apply for Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets