With a two-test series against Japan and Romania, Uruguay will have a good idea of where they are compared to their fellow Rugby World Cup 2023 competitors by the time their eventful summer schedule wraps up in mid-July. These four matches provide Los Teros with their first competitive results since 2021, a historic year for the booming rugby nation after they first qualified as America 1.
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Uruguay is no stranger to the Rugby World Cup having taken part in the last two tournaments and four overall. But until October, they had never before made it to the flagship tournament for playing as the best team from America. Three points behind the United States in the first leg in Glendale, Colorado, Los Teros won the second leg in Montevideo 34–15 to go to France 2023 50–34 on aggregate.
Qualifying as Americas 1 gave Los Teros the luxury of extra preparation time and more matches against opponents who would test them in different ways. A trip to Japan will bring back fond memories of the 2019 Rugby World Cup for many of the players still on the team.
On an emotionally charged day at Kamaishi Recovery Stadium, Uruguay famously defeated Fiji, winning 30-27, their third win in the tournament since their 1999 debut. The first match of the Japanese tour will take place on June 18. Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo, with a capacity of 27,000 spectators, and the second will take place on June 25 at Mikuni Stadium in Kitakyushu, which can accommodate 15,000 fans.
“For Uruguay, the opportunity to play two games against a team like Japan is very important in preparation for the next Rugby World Cup, said URU President Santiago Slinger. The Brave Flowers are one of the elite teams that have grown the most in recent years and are undoubtedly a role model.”
Only two previous times Uruguay played Brave Blossoms in Japan in 2015, they were well beaten 40-0 and 30-8. But significant progress has been made since then, thanks to the advantages of the Uruguayan high-performance center and participation in professional club leagues, Superleague Americana de Rugby and Major League Rugby.
Manager Esteban Menezes has also done a wonderful job of mobilizing and rallying a team that is expanding more and more, with some of Los Teros’ star performers receiving lucrative overseas contracts in France after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. While Japan ranks ninth. ranking higher and boasting nearly 12 points more than Uruguay, the second half of Uruguay’s test window brings together two teams not too far apart in the Men’s Rugby World Rankings.
Just two places and just over half a point separate sides that are far more familiar to each other compared to Uruguay’s fleeting association with the Brave Blossoms. Andy Robinson’s Oaks will be welcome at the Charrua Stadium in Montevideo for tests on July 10 and 17.
The two games against Romania will be a great opportunity for further growth in preparation for the France Rugby World Cup 2023, Menezes said. This will be a great opportunity to join the select few who play in Europe today with those who play in Major League Rugby and La Superleague Americana de Rugby to compare themselves to a direct competitor in the rankings as they are currently in 17th place and we are on the 19th.
“We must seize this opportunity in our quest to continue to grow in the game and as a team for our great goal of the Rugby World Cup.”
Romania has only played Los Teros on Uruguayan soil once, a 21:21 draw in Montevideo in 2010. 39-12 defeat in the second leg. The Oaks have won eight of their remaining nine meetings after a single draw, with Los Teros’ only success being a 27-20 victory in Bucharest in November 2018. Uruguay will face New Zealand, France and Italy at the Rugby World Cup 2023 and Africa 1 qualifiers in pool A.
Uruguay Progress after returning to the Rugby World Cup 2023
Uruguay has become a success story of the last decade. Los Teros returned after missing the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups and is now a consolidated member. For Uruguay, the focus has shifted from qualifying for the RWC to a sustainable long-term structure. The way it happened may open the way for others.
Uruguay’s first experience at the Rugby World Cup was a success. Los Teros debuted with a 27-15 victory over Spain in Scotland in 1999. Four years in Uruguay were winners over Georgia 24-12 in Australia. Although there were a few professional players, the backbone of Los Teros’ first two campaigns was the amateur home system. Indeed, Uruguay lost matches to all-professional teams in 1999 and 2003.
Uruguay, unfortunately, missed out on a place at the RWC 2007. An early red card to Juan Bado cost the team. Los Teros won against Portugal with a score of 18:12, but lost on aggregate with a score of 24:23. The disappointment continued into the 2011 RWC qualifiers. Once again, with the opportunity to finish in last place, Uruguay squandered the opportunity. Romania recovered from a 21-21 draw in Montevideo and won a landslide 39-12 in Bucharest in 2010.
Bucharest was a turning point for Uruguay. It was clear that Uruguay needed a change to get back to the Rugby World Cup. The plan was put into action. It took time and was not ready for the RWC 2015 qualifiers.
Uruguay beat Russia 57–49 on aggregate to qualify for the RWC 2015. A 36–27 home win in the second leg was pivotal to what followed. Star forward Rodrigo Capo Ortega returned to the series. Professional D2 player Agustín Ormaechea was the most famous player to have played USA in previous qualifiers.
Capo Ortega did not play in the Rugby World Cup. Ormaechea was one of four players not based in Uruguay. URU has made the decision to invest in players. This was the start of high performance mode. The players were better prepared for the World Cup than in 2003. Uruguay did not win; however, losses have been reduced compared to those from RWC 2003.
With better prepared, stronger and better trained players, Los Teros have progressed. The missing piece that fell into place after RWC 2015 was the American Rugby Championship (ARC). Uruguay needed more matches overall, more against higher ranked teams and to play more multi-dimensional rugby. ARC did a great job in this role.
Progress came in the RWC 2019 qualifiers. Uruguay qualified as America 2 by beating Canada home and away. Uruguay would add to a 38-29 win in Vancouver with a 32-25 win over the USA in Seattle in ARC 2019. For more know about Uruguay VS France Rugby World Cup Tickets.
In addition to the ARC, Major League Rugby (MLR) arrived. This meant that while the number of Uruguayans in Europe remained largely unchanged, there were opportunities elsewhere. Three RWC 2019 Teros have played in France, one in England and ten in MLR. The rest were employed at the High Performance Center in Montevideo.
Uruguay’s famous 30-27 victory over Fiji at RWC 2019 came as a shock to many. Has Fiji underestimated Uruguay? Yes. Fiji played poorly? No. The story of how Los Teros won the game, not how Fiji lost. The investment has reduced the recovery that Uruguay has struggled with in previous RWC cycles.
The next step forward was the emergence of professional rugby in Uruguay. Peñarol Rugby became the first professional team and the Super League Americana Rugby (SLAR) became the competition. Peñarol was second in 2021 and champion in 2022.
With professional players who could be called up from home and abroad, Uruguay had something that was unthinkable ten years ago. Los Teros qualified for RWC 2023 as Americas 1. This came with an overall win over USA. The decisive match was a home victory with a score of 34:15.
Los Teros now has more players abroad. Santiago Arata and Manuel Leindekar play in the top 14, Herman Kessler, Nicolas Freitas and Andrés Vilaseka play in Pro D2, and Agustín Ormaechea and Felipe Berchesi are in the lower divisions. The French names were joined by professionals from Italy and America.
Regional cooperation has begun in ARC and in SLAR. In 2023, this will happen with the rebranding of SLAR to Super Rugby Americas. Leadership is an additional important factor; The Charrois Stadium has hosted numerous international matches and tournaments.
Progress has come because the inner game continues to be the heartbeat. Mass gathering is what helps players who can filter the system achieve high performance. It comes with the club staying strong. Meanwhile, URU is busy looking for new ways of development. A case in point is Los Teros Sevens winning a spot in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Everything Uruguay has done has been about homegrown players. There are no Argentines, New Zealanders, South Africans, or others who have a right of residence or heritage. Uruguay’s 2022 test match against Tonga was a surprise. All blacks Malakai Fekitoa, Waea Fifita, George Moala and Augustine Pulu started, as did New Zealanders William Havili, Zane Kapeli, Sam Moli, Ben Tameifuna, Anzelo Tuitavuki and Australian Afusipa Taumoepo.
That match was a week after the important result. Twelve years after the disappointment of a 39-12 defeat in Bucharest, Uruguay won 21-16. It was the second victory in three Tests of the year against Romania. In short, in twelve years Los Teros may have traded places with Canada to be on par with Romania.
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