Monday, August 9, 2010

Buenos Aires - Vélez Sarsfield Stadium

Argentina has a total population of 43 million with 92% living in urban areas, of which the largest is the capital, Buenos Aires which is South America´s second largest city after Brazil´s São Paulo. Buenos Aires is the economic centre of the country and the transport hub for Argentina both domestically and internationally. The city is known as the Paris of South America due to its romantic charm, architecture and restaurants. The city would without doubt open up and welcome visitors and proudly host a Rugby World Cup.

With a population of 13 million and extensive rugby history it is the perfect base for a Rugby World Cup. Buenos Aires has the best tournament of any city in the world - URBA. It was created in 1899 making it one of the worlds oldest rugby competitions with 82 competing clubs spread over 4 groups with the best participating in the URBA Top 14. 

The size of the city and its numerous stadiums offer Argentina the opportunity of utilizing two venues should the country play host to a Rugby World Cup.One of the two which could arguably be used is the Estadio José Amalfitani, often referred to as Vélez Sarsfield Stadium. It has acted as a host venue for premier soccer events such as the 1978 FIFA World Cup, in which the stadium played host to three matches, and the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in which the stadium hosted the final and six other matches. 

Commonly referred to as El Fortín (The Fort in English) by Argentinians but is widely known as Vélez Sarsfield outside of the country it is a fantastic venue for international sport because of the close proximity of the fans to the field. A fullhouse crowd can make visiting teams feel like they are playing in a larger stadium which gives players a unique experience pf playing in Argentina. 

The first international rugby match held at the stadium was Argentina vs France in 1986. Argentina won the match 15-13. In total, Argentina has hosted thirty rugby test matches at the stadium and it was been the unofficial home of Los Pumas from 2003-2010 when it hosted at least one test match per year. Matches played during this time were regularly well attended. 

Vélez Sarsfield  has a current capacity of 49,540, making it a perfect venue to host matches should Argentina host Rugby World Cup 2023. It could be used to give Buenos Aires a second venue to support the cities premier stadium, the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, also known as River Plate Stadium which can fit around 17,000 more people.

Rugby World Cup 2003 included Stadium Australia and the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney and Rugby World Cup 2007 used the Stade de France and Parc de Princes in Paris. New Zealand 2011 featured Eden Park both and North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. While England 2015 is to feature three venues in London and Tokyo may also have three venues as part of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Vélez Sarsfield, like the Sydney Football Stadium and the Parc des Princes has an extensive history to merit being used as a second stadium for Buenos Aires should Rugby World Cup - Argentina 2023 become a reality. It is actually a larger venue than both. Like Parc des Princes it could host around 4 pool matches and push for a play-offs match such as the Bronze Final.

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