Thursday, April 4, 2013

Argentina to play Georgia in Resistencia?

2011 Los Pumas v French Barbarians
Estádio Centenário, Resistencia
Argentina´s three match home series this coming June wll see the South Americans face England twice and Georgia once. The UAR is yet to officially reveal the locations for these matches but it has been confirmed elsewhere that the first test on June 8 will be played at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in Salta and the second wll be played at Velez Sarsfeld in Buenos Aires. The same venues have previously hosted Pumas matches with Salta hosting England´s last visit to the country in 2009 while Velez Sarsfeld was the unofficial home of Los Pumas for the majority of the period between Rugby World Cup 1999 and 2007. 

In an interview with Salta newspaper El Tribuno, UAR Chairman Luis Castillo justified the selection of Salta due to it being a sizeable city and one that is key to Argentine rugby. He also said that the local government is actively working together with the UAR to help organize the match and that there are possible commerical benefits that could eventuate from the arrangement. Castillo also mentioned San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, the capital of the province of Catamarca and a city yet to host an international rugby match. Castillo said that it was not considered to host a test against England due to the stadiums´s capacity not being large enough.  

Could Catamarca, therefore be used to host Georgia? The possibility would appear to be real but it is not likely to happen this year. Castillo and the UAR are very dedicated to taking international rugby to the North of Argentina. Unlike England, which wll host Rugby World Cup 2015 despite not playing a home test outside of London since 1998, the UAR continues to utilize stadiums located in a host of Argentine cities. Western Argentina´s largest city, Mendoza, will host South Africa while the Litoral´s largest will host Australia in the Rugby Championship. New Zealand will play in the capital of Buenos Aires province, La Plarta while with England playing in Salta Northern Argentina will also be represented. 

The location of the test against Georgia remains unknown but Castillo has indicated that it will be played in the province of Chaco, located on the border with Paraguay. The UAR has used the venue recently with Argentina facing the French Barbarians in 2011 in the second of two matches. The public responded well to the match and have been rewarded with a chance of now attending an official test. The largest stadium in Chaco Province is the Estádio Centenário in the city of Resistencia. Its capacity of 25,000 actually makes it larger than that of Salta´s stadium. Like Salta it is a stadium worthy of hosting matches in a Rugby World Cup. With the UAR spreading matches around the country, and the population turning up in overwhelmingly positive numbers, the  strength of Argentina as the best candidate to host Rugby World Cup 2023 continues to grow.

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