With representation from Sudamérica Rugby’s six High Performance Unions, two of which are already qualified for Rugby World Cup 2023 – Argentina and Uruguay – and a third still on the hunt for a place in France in two years time, aspiring coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, nutritionists and video analysts met in Mar del Plata, Argentina for the academy.

Under the leadership of Sudamérica Rugby’s HP Manager Daniel Hourcade, a week-long academy provided 29 invited representatives from Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Colombia with guidance and training to continue growing their careers.

Over the course of a week, these current or aspiring professionals were divided in two groups, each receiving an age grade team from the local Mar del Plata Rugby Union, working with them as if they were in the middle of a regular season, all leading up to a game which was played the day before the end of the academy.

Joe Schmidt, World Rugby’s Director of Rugby and High Performance, worked closely with SAR in the build-up to the Academy and remotely welcomed participants from New Zealand on Day one of six.

Hourcade, Argentina’s Scrum Director Andrés Bordoy and former Argentina captain Lisandro Arbizu mentored Team Black while former Brazilian coach and Italian international Rodolfo Ambrosio, Uruguay assistant coach Pablo Bouza and Argentina U20 coach José Pellicena mentored Team White.

What went down

Aside from preparing both teams, participants received high level coaching from experts in areas such as nutrition, video analysis, fitness, game areas and media.

With presentations entitled ‘Profile of an Age Grade Player in High Performance’ and ‘Profile of a High Performance Coach’, the latter given by former Puma captain and current Leinster Coach Felipe Contepomi, Academy participants were provided with invaluable information about life at the elite level.

 “We were all delighted with Felipe’s presentation; his clarity and the concepts he shared with us were very good,” said Ambrosio. “The interest it generated was clear by the number and depth of questions that were asked after he’d finished.”

Another presentation that got people talking and was very well received was that of Arbizu, based in France since the late 1990s: ‘Leadership: how to be a leader of oneself’.

In a week full of rugby, World Rugby also conducted Educator and Trainer courses through SAR’s Training and Education Manager Martín Bassino. Referee Manager Joaquín Montes also worked with the High Performance staff of referees, interacting with both teams’ staff.

As planned, day five of the Academy was match day and both teams took to the field at the IPR Club.

“The match is another important event of the Academy,” said Hourcade. “We are evaluating much more than how a team performs on the day. We are evaluating each individual involved and how they perform their job and interact with their fellow staff members.”

The match itself was a 19-all draw.

Leaving a legacy for the city of Mar del Plata, different open presentations were made for local coaches.

The follow-up

Staff members then had to dissect the game their team had played and plan ahead for the following week, as if they were in a tournament environment.

In closing the Academy, World Rugby’s High Performance Manager Peter Horne thanked participants, from Sydney, Australia. “What Sudamérica Rugby is doing with its High Performance is huge; it has been very important for World Rugby to have this Academy and we thank you all for your hard work,” he said.

“You now have the huge responsibility of returning to your unions to use all that you have learned.”

The final day was also one of feedback – individual and grouped – from mentors.

Hourcade made sure that each participant knew how they had fared during the high intensity week. “We have evaluated every member of the Academy and they return home with feedback and knowledge of what they need to focus on in the future to continue on the pathway set out by this Academy.”

 “We’ve all learned a lot these past days; the commitment and responsibility of all involved make us very happy and promises good things for all of us looking into the future.”


Participants were designated by their national unions. They were:

Coaches: Gastón Bordacahar, Gastón Dunayevich and Diego Vidal (Argentina), Daniel Danielewicz (Brazil), Federico Puerari (Paraguay), Alejandro Nieto (Uruguay), José Manuel Diosa (Colombia), Diego Sepúlveda (Chile).

Trainers: Robert Barrios (Paraguay), Felipe Schultz (Brazil), Carlos Londoño Mestre (Colombia), Andrés Zacarelli (Argentina), Diego Bustos (Chile), Julián Masmas (Uruguay).

Nutritionists: Rafael Klosterhoff (Brazil), Juan Tassistro (Argentina), Juan José Vargas (Paraguay), Sofía Paredes (Uruguay).

Physios: Juan Pizzulic (Chile), Lucas Carlini Carrio (Argentina), Facundo Mazza (Uruguay), Mario Rivera (Brazil), Santiago Vanegas (Colombia), Patricia López Piris (Paraguay).

Video analysts: Walter Schilberg (Brazil), Ivan Alejandro Bjubetic (Paraguay, Carolina Bosyk (Argentina), Mauricio Vázquez (Chile), Juan Antonio Rodríguez Barbagelata (Uruguay).

SAR Academy Staff: Daniel Hourcade, Rodolfo Ambrosio, Pablo Bouza (Technical), Gonzalo Santos (Trainer), Martín Núñez (Physiotherapy), Romina Garavaglia (Nutrition), Martín Jauma (Video Analysis) and Eugenio Astesiano (Media).

READ MORE: Laureana Pappaterra: Breaking down barriers in Argentina