Featuring the three U19 national teams of the South American representatives at Rugby World Cup 2023, the city of Paysandú in western Uruguay played host to a new edition of the South American Rugby Championship, first played in 1981.
Argentina have been the perennial winner of this tournament while Uruguay confirmed they are the second strongest nation in the region with a solid, yet losing, performance against the tournament victors.
They also enjoyed a clear win against Chile, who were also vying for the regional ticket for the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2023, which will return to Kenya for a second time.
The opening game of the round-robin tournament had Los Pumitas beating the home side 47-15, scoring five tries in an opening half that finished 33-3 at the beautiful Trébol Club in Paysandú, a stone's throw away from the Argentine-border.
Los Teritos came back with a more intelligent approach against a big pack of forwards and in the second half, soon got two tries, the same number as the winning side.
Chile U19 proved no opposition for Argentina, who ran out 99-0 victors and with the win of the tournament. 14 tries – seven per half – spoke to the domination of the 2022 Champions as they prepare for next year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.
“The boys wanted to better what they had done with Uruguay and raise the speed and the way they played,” said former international Álvaro Galindo, the Pumitas coach. “The big score was because of the way they played. We leave extremely happy.”
Whilst Uruguay felt buoyed by their second half performance against Argentina, it was always going to be hard for Chile to recover.
The 62-14 win by Los Teritos confirmed their superiority and denied the Chileans the chance of returning to Kenya, where in 2009 they had competed in the same World Rugby U20 Trophy (a year in which Uruguay, having won the inaugural Trophy, played in the Championship in Japan).
What lies ahead
Nine tries to two was a clear indication that the team coached by former Tero Guillermo Storace will be a strong side next year.
Storace, who had national coach Esteban Meneses keeping an eye out for players ahead of a busy 2023 season as part of his coaching staff, said: “The goal was to qualify to the Trophy winning this game, so the balance is positive. We played well against Argentina, with mistakes we have to learn from.
“[Against Chile] we did what we had to do to win. I love the commitment and intensity of the team.”
With the Championship and Trophy played next year, every player in the Sudamericano will be eligible for these age-grade tournaments.
Uruguay will play its 11th World Rugby U20 Trophy (out of 13), having won its inaugural tournament in 2008. Exceptions came in 2009, in the Championship, and 2012, when they failed to qualify at the hands of Chile. They were hosts in 2017.
The Chileans hosted the Trophy in 2008 and 2013 and also played in 2009, 2012 and 2017.
Picture credit: SAR/@felimendaro_