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RWC 2023 Qualifier Spotlight: Uruguay
We continue our countdown to Rugby World Cup 2023 with Uruguay the latest nation under the spotlight for their RWC story.
The current group of Uruguayan players have already made history by making it to Rugby World Cup 2023 as the top qualifier from the Americas region following their home-and-away series victory against USA.
Next, their goal will be to target a first-ever third-place pool finish at Rugby World Cup 2023 and the prize of automatic qualification for the following tournament.
Never before have Uruguay won more than one game at a tournament and their task won’t be easy in Pool A with New Zealand, France, Italy and the Africa Cup 2022 winners for company.
But with more preparation time than ever before and the confidence they will have gained from beating Fiji at Japan 2019, Los Teros will head to France ready to write a new chapter in their Rugby World Cup story.
Uruguay🇺🇾 win the Americas 1 qualifier final!🏆🏉— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 11, 2021
They beat USA to claim a spot at #rwc2023 @France2023 | @RugbyUruguay pic.twitter.com/2RBWfKML1s
RWC debut: 2 October, 1999 v Spain at Netherdale in Gala, Scotland
RWC appearances: Played 15 – Won 3, Drawn 0, Lost 12 – Points for 188, Points against 718 – Win percentage 20 per cent
Most RWC appearances: Agustin Ormaechea, Andres Vilaseca, Juan Manuel Gaminara and Rodrigo Silva, 8
Most RWC tries: Alfonso Cardoso, Manuel Diana and Pablo Lemoine, 2
Best finish: Pool stage
Qualification for RWC 2023: Americas 1
Most memorable match: Uruguay 30-27 Fiji, Kamaishi, Japan, RWC 2019
¡FELICITACIONES CAPITÁN!@Juangaminara @RugbyUruguay #RWC2019 #RWCKamaishi #FIJvURU #WebbEllisCup pic.twitter.com/j22mhDlYvK— Rugby World Cup ES (@rugbyworldcupes) September 25, 2019
Uruguay’s first Rugby World Cup win in 16 years came on an emotionally-fuelled day at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.
Built on the site of a school destroyed by the 2011 tsunami that wreaked havoc on Japan, the ground was symbolic of the region’s ability to bounce back from the most unimaginable adversity.
Against this backdrop, the match between Fiji and Uruguay took on extra significance and it was Los Teros who lived up to the occasion.
Tries from scrum-half Santiago Arata, number eight Manuel Diana and centre Juan Manuel Cat and the boot of Felipe Berchesi put them 24-12 up at half-time.
Berchesi added two more second-half penalties and Fiji, ranked nine places higher at kick-off, fell to one of the biggest shocks in Rugby World Cup history despite two late tries from Nikola Matawalu.
Juan Manuel Gaminara breaking down in tears with a Uruguay flag draped around his shoulders during a post-match interview as he tried to convey what victory over Fiji meant to his country.
An 111-13 defeat to eventual champions England at Rugby World Cup 2003.
Los Teros conceded 17 tries and only managed one in reply, to prop Pablo Lemoine.
Uruguay did not know it at the time but their next Rugby World Cup try would be 12 years in the waiting.
Iconic player: Diego Ormaechea
Ormaechea has the honour of being Uruguay’s first try-scorer at a Rugby World Cup as well as being the oldest player in the competition’s history. The number eight was 40 years and 26 days old when he took to the field against South Africa at Hampden Park, a fortnight after his try set Uruguay on the way to a 27-15 win against Spain.
Ormaechea’s legacy in rugby lives on through his sons, Iñaki, Agustín and Juan Diego, who have all represented their country at rugby. Agustin and Juan Diego followed in their father’s footsteps by appearing at a Rugby World Cup, while Iñaki played sevens.
Berchesi’s 15-point haul against Fiji is a Uruguayan record for the most points scored in a Rugby World Cup match.
Did you know?
Uruguay only had 22 full-time professional players going into Rugby World Cup 2019.
“I’m really proud of my country, we’re not the biggest, we’re not the tallest but we came here to win. We’ve been preparing four years for this.”
– Juan Manual Gaminara expresses his emotions after the Fiji win.