Thursday, July 19, 2012

Uruguay vs South Africa - Rugby World Cup 2003

Four years after debuting in Wales 1999, Uruguay was back again competiting in its second Rugby World Cup, Australia 2003. The South Americans were given a tough assignment - drawn in Pool C alongside England, Georgia, Samoa and South Africa. Los Teros´debut had been succesful in 1999 with a win over Spain and losses in subseuqent matches against Scotland and South Africa. The South Americans would open their 2003 campaign with a match against the same side, South Africa, in the Western Australian captial of Perth. The 72-6 results suggests that South Africa were dominant but Uruguay actually put up a good fight before fatigue set in after the interval. 

The match was not well attended. A crowd of just over 16,000 turned up for the match which was surprizingly low for a Rugby World Cup match in a city the size of Perth and was also low for the fact that Perth has a large ex-pat South African population. Curiously, Uruguay´second game, just four days latter, against samoa had a bigger crowd with 22,000 attending the match. Uruguay were given a split schedule for the tournament with four days separating its first two matches and again four more separating its final two matches after a thirteen day break. This meant Uruguay, a Tier Three rugby nation, was forced to rotate players while taking on teams from the First and Second Tier who had less complicated fixture lists. 

Perth hosted five matches, all from the same pool with each side playing its first two matches at the Subiaco Oval. The decision was made due to Australia´ geography in which Perth is located far from all the major rugby centres - Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney and is also far from other cities. The closest city to Perth that hosted matches is Adelaide located some 2692KM away by road making it a three day journey by car. Road travel for teams was thus impossible with planes being the only option. Argentina, is similarly a large country but would have no such complications like the example of Perth due to no Argentine city that looms as a host venue being more than 400KM away from another host city. While Australia has Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide as its five largest cities Argentina has Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza and Tucumán. The five cities are well spread across the country but the distances are far less complicated than Australia. Buenos Aires to Córdoba, for instance, is 644KM while Australia´s equivalent of Sydney to Melbourne is 895KM. 

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