Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tucumán - Estadio Monumental Presidente José Fierro

The province of Tucumán is considered to be the heartland of Argentine rugby. Rugby is more popular than soccer in the province and the province has a strong rugby team known as Los Naranjas (oranges). Los Naranjas won the Campeonato Argentino in 2010 after defeating Rosario 19-13 in the final. The city has produced many Pumas including Omar Hasan, Julio Farías Cabello, José Maria Nuñez Piossek and Nicolás Sánchez.  

At present the capacity of the Estadio Monumental Presidente José Fierro has a capacity of 32,700. It is in need of renovation and, indeed, the stadium is scheduled to be upgraded to have modern facilities and a larger capacity. Using the stadiums in New Zealand as a comparison, Tucumán would appear to be a complete candidade to host matches should a Rugby World Cup be played in Argentina. It could host up to four pool matches and even one key match similar to Dunedin which hosted both Ireland vs Italy and Argentina vs England in Rugby World Cup 2011.

On June the 12th 2010, Argentina hosted Scotland in an international rugby match at the Estadio Monumental Presidente José Fierro in San Miguel de Tucumán. Despite taking place on the same day as Argentina vs Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup, the match was a great success registering an attendance of 32,000.

Being able to attract a crowd of this size speaks wonders for the popularity of rugby in Argentina and underlines the city of Tucumán as a host city should Argentina host a Rugby World Cup. Despite having a vocal crowd cheer on the home team, Scotland won the match 24-16. The loss marked the first ever loss for Los Pumas in Tucumán.

Two years later, Los Pumas returned to Tucumán, this time taking on France. Argentina fielded a weakened side with 24 players being rested ahead of The Rugby Championship. France impressed in completing a 49-10 victory. Despite the depleted Pumas team the people of Tucumán, again filled the stadium.

Although the name of the city is San Miguel de Tucumán it is commonly refered to simply as Tucumán. With a population of almost 800,000 it is the largest city in northern Argentina and the fifth largest in the country. It is located 500KM north of Córdoba and 1300KM from Buenos Aires. Despite the huge distances between larger cities and Tucumán, travel will not be a problem. In the 2003 World Cup in Australia, England and Samoa both travelled a staggering 2700KM from Perth to Melbourne for their pool match.

A World Cup must take in as much of the host country as possible. Tucumán could be joined by Salta and / or Jujuy as host cities representing Northern Argentina. Visiting teams could play 2 or 3 matches within the region and play their key matches outside the region in larger venues such as Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mar del Plata or Rosario.

The schedule could be organized for Tucumán to host a team such as Scotland for its first two pool matches and for that team to them play once in Salta or Jujuy before flying to Buenos Aires to play its final match. Similarly, a team playing in Córdoba or even Santá Fe (700KM away) could travel to the north for their final pool match.

Distances can seem big but they need to be taken with comparisons. One such example is that of 2007 when Argentina played Namibia in Marselle and then Ireland in Paris the following weekend. The distance between the two is 770KM. A trip to the north would be a great experience for visiting fans and players.

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