Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Argentina to assist Uruguay´s development

Photo: UAR
One of the troubling realities facing global rugby is the share lack of support offered from Tier One unions to neighboring or nearby developing rugby countries. While Argentina plays against Brazil, Chile and Uruguay every year in the South American Championship there is no comparable regional competition anywhere. Many nations are forced to fight for scraps and rarely ever host the giants of their respective regions. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are examples of this in Oceania. All have defeated Tier One sides at World Cup´s in the professional era yet never host and rarely face Australia or New Zealand. They are victims of not being able to offer financial stability which means Australia and New Zealand have little interest in hosting tests against the Pacific Islanders. Tests against Six Nations opposition, England and France in particular, offer much more security, can be stage at larger venues and tickets can be sold at higher prices. 

Georgia is a nation that faces difficulties as it is stuck in no-mans land as it has firmly established itself as the best team from the European Nations Championship (ENC) but lacks opportunities against those who compile the Six Nations. Similar to the Pacific Islanders, Georgia struggles to host or play away against Tier One opposition. Like in Oceania there is no regional leadership whatsoever as the leading unions continue to be able to simply not face the developing teams from their own region. Argentina has shown interest in playing test rugby against the Pacific Islanders between now and the next World Cup while New Zealand, in contrast, has made it known that it will not play against a Pacific Island nation at all before 2015. In other words Argentina´s intentions are of a greater benefit to the global game than New Zealand´s are. This provides further reasoning for Argentina to host Rugby World Cup 2023.

The case to bring the World Cup on Argentina will be for all of South America. The benefits would be regional and Argentina is a regional model. Earlier today the headcoach of the national mens Uruguayan rugby team, Pablo Lemoine and the Unión de Rugby del Uruguay (URU) High Performance Manager, Sebastian Piñeyrúa, visited the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) and had a meeting with the UAR´s High Performance department. The matter of the meeting was to to discuss and coordinate the timing of both entities with the goal of collaborating with the preparation and development of Rugby High Performance in Uruguay. Amongst the Argentine reperesentatives at the meeting was former captain and IRB Hall of Famer, Agustín Pichot as well as a number of others including the High Performance Director, Francisco Rubio. 

After the meeting Rubio said "we will work together with the URU with the idea being, in addition to organizing parties, to combine our efforts in different rugby activities including all aspects of high performance. Lets try to pass on our experience and our knowledge. Regarding developing more neighboring countries, which are those who have more access to play, it will generate more competition. If we can help in some way to that happening in Uruguay, we are going to do, is the spirit of the game."

Piñeyrúa said: "The URU is trying to start a process like that of Argentina. We have already established a high performance center that trains our players under a plan, and the idea is to colaborate with the experiences of the UAR, and with its help, we anticipate things that may occur. In turn, we want to complement it with a set timetable to that of Los Jaguars (Argentina A), which is the level at which we must aspire." Uruguay recently acquired an official home stadium in Montevideo and the URU is to control the facilities.

Meanwhile, Lemoine explained that Uruguay currently has a fixtured schedule similar to that of Los Jaguars, with the Nations Cup, the South American Cup and the Americas Rugby Championship, and the Pumas during the months of June and November. "With that in mind, we decided that since it is strategically important to have more competition, we want to create a fixture with the UAR set to the long term." 

After the meeting, Agustin Pichot expressed enthusiasm about the initiative to collaborate with the growth of High Performance rugby in Uruguay. He said "during the process of further growth, many unions have collaborated with us to tell us their experience. Collaborating with Uruguay will in part be reciprocal with the help we received. It is going to be very enriching to combine our calendar with that of Uruguay´s to have competition and rugby matches with Argentine teams, and this will also, no doubt, be good for the UAR."

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