Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Buenos Aires - River Plate Stadium (El Monumental)

Argentina´s largest stadium, River Plate Stadium, also known as the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, and El Monumental de Nuñez is an ideal venue to host a Rugby World Cup Final. It is considered to be the national stadium of Argentina and has an extensive history in hosting key sporting events in the country. It hosted nine matches at the 1978 FIFA World Cup with the capacity being 76,600. It also hosted matches for the 1987 Copa América including the final and hosted matches for the 2011 Copa América which took place in Argentina.

River Plate Stadium is no stranger to International Rugby. Los Pumas played three test matches at the venue from 2000-2002. Following the success of Argentina at Rugby World Cup 1999, the UAR opted to utilize the country´s premier stadium to host matches vs the Southern Hemisphere´s big three. The first visitors were South Africa  in November 2000 and they won the match 37-33. One year latter the All Blacks visited and won 24-20 after scoring a try with time up on the clock. Rugby World Cup Champions, Australia played the following year and won 17-6. Despite not winning any of the three matches, Argentina did very well as they were expected to be dominated in all three yet almost won two of the matches.

Argentina vs Australia, 2002 at River Plate Stadium

With Argentina having entered the Tri Nations in 2012 to create the Rugby Championship, River Plate Stadium's return as a Pumas venue is just a question of time. Argentina received very strong crowds for all three of the matches played at the venue at a point in time Argentina was not considered as being a world power. Many considered Argentina as being slightly better than Fiji or Italy. Yet, the fans responded and they packed the country´s largest stadium.

Since then Argentina have achieved even better results in both home and away matches. Attendances in Argentina have improved and the team is able to play nationwide. The trend of moving matches around the country is certain to continue with Greater Buenos Aires continuing to host the biggest match every year. From 2012-2014 this has seen La Plata allocated Argentina v New Zealand.

With a capacity of 66,449, River Plate Stadium is larger than Eden Park which with temporary seating had a capacity of 60,000 for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. It also hosted both semi-finals and five pool matches. Therefore as it stands, River Plate Stadium, is more than appropriate as acting as the base venue for Rugby World Cup 2023. Between now and then it could be upgraded to have a larger seating capacity and improved facilities.

Being able to host the premier rugby event in a country with such extensive accomplishments in hosting and winning the biggest soccer events would be a significant achievement for the sport in Argentina, in the Americas and, most importantly, globally. Argentina have achieved outstanding results and have attracted highly positive crowds for matches held across the country. In other words, the country has both necessary stadiums and home support to host a highly successful Rugby World Cup.

Buenos Aires is not only the country´s capital city but it is also centrally located which would make moving between cities an easier task than in a number of other Rugby World Cup´s. Argentina´s second largest city, Córdoba is 700KM north west of Buenos Aires and Argentina´s third largest, Rosario, is 300KM north-west of Buenos Aires.

In 2006, President Néstor Kirchner announced plans to construct a Tren de Alta Velocidad –TAVe (high-speed electric train) system which will operate at 320 km/h linking these cities. When completed the travel time from Buenos Aires to Rosario will be 85 minutes, from Rosario to Córdoba 90 minutes and from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata will also take less than two hours.

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