Travelling was certainly not an issue for Argentina XV, Uruguay XV and Brazil, as all three sides opened their South America Six Nations campaigns with wins in Colombia, Chile and Paraguay respectively.
Argentina XV and Brazil both racked up the points in big wins while Uruguay XV were pushed much harder by 14-man Los Cóndores as the region's leading tournament got off to a great start.
Colombia 3-79 Argentina XV
Fresh from their Americas Rugby Championship title win, Argentina XV turned on the style to score 13 unanswered tries to silence the capacity home crowd in the Colombian rugby hotbed of Medellín in what was the first-ever test meeting between the sides.
After Colombian stalwart José Diosa kicked a neat drop goal in the opening minute, Los Tucanes found themselves on the back foot as Argentina XV came at them in wave after wave of attack, scoring from all quarters.
Manuel Montero, who has found his way back into Los Pumas' high-performance pathway, was one of eight different try-scorers with inside centre Luca Mensa grabbing a brace. Teo Castiglioni kicked five conversions as well as crossing the whitewash in a win that will have taught the home side a lot of lessons in what it takes to win at the highest level.
Colombia will host Paraguay next Saturday in a game that promises to be much more closely fought given there is only three places between the sides in the World Rugby Rankings with Los Tucanes 35th and Paraguay 38th.
Chile 32-39 Uruguay XV
In this big regional derby, a youthful-looking Uruguay XV gained revenge for their defeat of 12 months ago under the lights of the Old Boys Club, in Chicureo, on the outskirts of Santiago, in an entertaining match that saw both sides score five tries apiece.
Uruguay XV got off to a superb start with a couple of tries from two of their most experienced players, hooker German Kessler and left winger Nicolás Freitas, inside the first six minutes.
Right winger Federico Favaro was on target with both conversions, in addition to a penalty as Uruguay XV went into the break 17-10 up, fly-half Santiago Videlo contributing all of the home side's points.
The dismissal of centre Jose Ignacio Larenas for foul play on the half-hour mark meant Chile were always going to be up against it but they came out after the break in determined fashion and managed to take the lead following a quickfire brace from Julio Blanc.
The extra man began to tell, though, and Uruguay XV quickly overturned the two-point deficit thanks to tries from Juanjuan Garese and Tomás Iniciarte. Still, Chile did not give up and they made it a one-score game again when Juan Pablo Larenas atoned for his brother's earlier misdemeanour with Chile's fourth try on 70 minutes.
Uruguay XV only led 34-27 at this point but a brilliant 90-metre effort from Agustin Della Corte in the closing stages finally sealed their fate. Videla's second try deep into stoppage time was merely a consolation for the home side who can still take plenty of positives from the match as well as two bonus points.
Paraguay 10-66 Brazil
Brazil began the defence of their South America Six Nations title with a record-breaking victory at the Héroes de Curupaytí stadium that came with 10 tries.
The difference between the sides was clear from the start of the game, with Brazil's better preparation – even with some of their regulars absent – a sign of real progress made in this country where participation in the Americas Rugby Championship is clearly paying dividends.
Brazil's fearsome scrum, fast becoming a trademark feature of their play, was responsible for the first two tries and a second penalty try later on, but the backs also contributed well to Brazil's biggest ever win over Paraguay.
Centre Jacobus de Wet van Niekerk scored a quickfire double, both tries converted by fly-half Lucas Tranquez, as Brazil raced into a 26-0 lead at virtually a point a minute. Winger Daniel Lima also got in on the act just before half-time and he scored again not long after the restart as Os Tupis' domination continued.
After centre Diego Argaña opened Paraguay's account and second-row Mario Bravo added another, normal order was restored with Brazil adding three further tries, including a hat-trick score for Lima.
Next Saturday Brazil host Uruguay XV, Argentina XV take on Chile in Tucumán and Colombia and Paraguay meet in Medellín.
Photo: René Tobón
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