Jorge Braceras, an original member of the Regional Development Managers team that World Rugby (then known as the International Rugby Board) put together at the start of the century, has died aged 80 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The former international and a great thinker of the game, Braceras left a huge rugby legacy. He played senior rugby for 20 seasons for the Alumni Club in Buenos Aires, while working as a sports teacher in a number of schools. He was the Argentine Rugby Union's first National Development Manager and, later, as Regional Development Manager for the IRB.
“The family was inundated with so many messages from friends and people we did not know, it was very emotional. We knew people loved him but we didn’t think to that extent; he left a legacy we were not aware,” said Tomás, the oldest of three sons that Jorge had with the love of his life Lola.
Nicknamed Yankee – he spent his last school year in the United States where he played American Football, Braceras took up rugby on his return to Argentina, a sport his father, a member of the national forces, had played.
Within two years, he moved to Alumni. That was in 1966. He made his first XV debut the following year and went on to play for the club for the next two decades.
First capped in 1971 as a back-row forward, Braceras spent most of his senior career as a hooker until is last appearance in 1977 (pictured).
A humble servant of the game
As a PE teacher, he organised countless rugby tours and also left a mark on his students. He was always positive, always friendly and very humble. “He was very proud of having played for Los Pumas, but he would not use that in any way. One of his former pupils told me at his funeral he only found out Dad had played for Argentina 10 years later,” recalls Tomás.
A mass in his honour was attended by most of his former club and national teammates.
In 1996, he became the National Development Manager for the Unión Argentina after a long selection process and when World Rugby held its inaugural awards in 2001, he was given the first Development Award which he had in his room until the day he died.
That same year, he was hired by the IRB, as one of the first eight Regional Development Managers, a dream team that included Lee Smith, Pierre Villepreux, Robert Antonin and Tom Jones, his counterpart in North America.
“Everybody knew him, there is no man that loved rugby and cared more about rugby than Jorge Braceras,” said Jones from Calgary. “He was the most caring person, he loved his club and his boys. His life revolved around his club, his family and the game.”
Having travelled extensively throughout Argentina, he began to take his vast knowledge around South America and beyond.
“That RDM team (run by former Welsh international and British and Irish Lion Geoff Evans) was an extraordinary gathering of people that provided great technical nous in the early days of World Rugby’s investment in the grassroots," added Jones.
"It was always a pleasure to be involved in well informed discussions with those rugby minds that really cared for the game and how it was played.
“Jorge was a complete, fantastic person that cared about people. You could only love him.
His rugby legacy is huge, pushing women’s rugby and always happy to teach and work with coaches.”
The Braceras legacy lives on in Felipe, a hooker in the U16s at Alumni.