Friday, July 30, 2010

Mendoza - Estadio Malvinas Argentinas

The Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, previously known as the Estadio Ciudad de Mendoza, in Mendoza was one of six venues used by Argentina to host the 11th edition of the FIFA World Cup in 1978. The stadium played host to six matches and has also been a key Argentinean stadium ever since. It was selected as a venue to host the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina and the 2011 Copa América. The stadium was built in 1976 specifically for the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Like large venues across Argentina, the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas has not only a history in hosting important soccer fixtures, but it has also hosted international rugby. In total, there have been eight international rugby matches hosted in Mendoza. The first was on October 4, 1997 as Argentina hosted neighbours, Chile. Argentina won the match 50-10. Four and a half years later, test rugby returned to Mendoza as the city hosted the 2002 Sul Americano A. The tournament was held in the city from April 28 to May 4. Argentina defeated Uruguay 35-21, Paraguay 152-0 and Chile 57-13 to win the tournament. Uruguay finished in second after defeating Chile 33-16 and Paraguay 81-6.

The world governing and law-making body of rugby, the International Rugby Board (IRB) selected Mendoza to host the IRB Under 21 Rugby World Cup in 2005. The tournament was hosted by rugby clubs in Mendoza with the Championship Final and the Third Place Play-Off both being played at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas. Competing teams included Argentina, Canada, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. South Africa defeated Australia 24-10 in the Championship Final while Argentina finished in fifth place.

Los Pumas returned to Mendoza for international duty in June 2007 as they played host to Italy at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas. Argentina had come off two test wins vs Ireland in Santa Fé and Buenos Aires. Despite being without key players such as Pichot, Hernández, Felipe Contepomi, Roncero, Ledesma, Scelzo, Albacete and Longo, Argentina continued their winning streak by defeating Italy 24-6. Five players in the run on XV who did not make the squad for France 2007. Argentina attracted a strong crowd of around 30,000 for the match.

The Estadio Malvinas Argentinas has a capacity at present of 40,268 making it a similar size to Wellington which hosted six pool matches and two Quarter-Finals at Rugby World Cup 2011. It also has a larger capacity than five venues used in France 2007 including Bordeaux, Montpellier and Toulouse who all hosted four pool matches. Thus, Mendoza as it stands, is ready to host Rugby World Cup matches.

The stadium was also selected to host Argentina vs South Africa in the ground-breaking 2012 The Rugby Championship. It was Argentina´s debut home match in the tournament and a strong and vocal crowd turned up for the occassion. Argentina made history by drawing 16-16 with South Africa. It was selected for home matches in the following two years with South Africa returning in 2013 and Australia doing so in 2014.

Should Argentina bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023, Mendoza could host at least four matches and arguably push to host a Quarter-Final. Hosting at least one key pool match is guaranteed in a similar way to Nantes which hosted two important  pool matches in France 2007 - England vs Samoa and Fiji vs Wales.

Mendoza is Argentina's fourth largest city with a population of 1.1 million and is the capital of Mendoza province. It is also the largest city in the Andean region of Argentina. It was founded in 1561 by Pedro del Castillo and in 2008 was listed as one of the top 10 historic destinations in the World by National Geographic magazine.

The city is one of the most famous cities in Argentina due to the regions production of wine. Mendoza produces over 60% of all wine from Argentina and is the largest producer of wine in Latin America. Red wines including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo are Mendoza´s most important varieties. The region also has a large olive oil industry and is one of Argentina´s top skiing destinations.

Mendoza is located 1,100KM west of Argentina´s capital, Buenos Aires and 380KM east of the Chilean capital, Santiago. The main road between the two South American capital cities passes through Mendoza. Argentina's second largest city, Córdoba, is 500KM north-east of Mendoza.

Compared to venues used in France 2007 Mendoza appears isolated but it certainly is not compared to Australia 2003. For instance, the two Quarter-Final venues used for Rugby World Cup 2003, Melbourne and Brisbane, are over 1500KM apart with a flight time of 3.5 hours. In comparison, by plane the trip from Buenos Aires to Mendoza is less than 2 hours by plane.

An additional example is the distance from the two largest venues at Rugby World Cup 2011 - Auckland and Christchurch. They are over 900KM apart and it takes over 15 hours to travel from one to the other by car because of the ferry crossing between the North and South Islands. Mendoza is, therefore, located comparatively close and will mean travelling by land or air is in no way a large or complicated task.

1 comment:

  1. All the top teams would like to be based in Mendoza to taste the really good wine.