The extent of just how understrength Chile had been against Brazil in the opening round fixture of the South American Championship was evident on Saturday as Brazil was defeated by Paraguay in Asunción. The result meant Brazil blew a rare opportunity of finishing in the top two of the competition. Consequently Brazil will not play in the 2015 CONSUR Cup with Uruguay and Argentina to instead be joined by Paraguay who are now set to face up the IRB World Rankings.
In search of a more competitive and fair South American Championship CONSUR altered the format for the 2014 competition to have Paraguay replacing Argentina in the four team tournament. Argentina was not removed, but rather, repositioned in an additional tournament known as the CONSUR Cup to take place after the South American Championship and feature the runner-up and third placed side from the 2013 South American Championship.
Argentina, in other words, is to face Chile and Uruguay in the coming weeks as a quite remarkable South America Championship has now been completed. The tournament proved to be highly competitive with Uruguay shoing why it is second to Argentina in the region but Brazil, Chile and Paraguay all won once and lost twice.
Brazil started the competition with a bang. The Portuguese speaking country and hosts of the 2016 Olympic Games completed a win over Chile in São Paulo to spark debates over the potential of Brazil in the future. Chile entered the match, and tournament, with a reserve squad due to an unresolved dispute at home and the union not involving players based in Europe.
Having been defeated in São Paulo Chile regrouped in Concepción and took on Los Yacares of Paraguay. The visitors came close to completing a win but Chile held on to set up a match against Uruguay in Montevideo while Paraguay hosted Brazil in Asunción. The match in the Paraguayan capital was, on paper, there for Brazil to win and book a spot in the 2015 CONSUR Cup but instead Paraguay was the team celebrating.
Prior to Saturday's match Brazil had been too strong for Paraguay in recent years. Brazil had won five in a row from 2008-2012 and had done so by notable scorelines in all but one occasion. Early signs were good for Brazil as Leandro Castiglioni kicked an early penalty but Paraguay responded with fullback Sergio Alvarenga making it 3-3 in the 10th minute.
Thereafter Paraguay was the better side until the second half and the 19-3 half time lead was based on Brazil not playing well and enabling Paraguay to play some quality attacking rugby. Centre Martín Ortiz scored the first try of the match by breaking two tackles in what was a combination of impressive individual attack and unacceptable tackling at international level.
Brazil was given a serious talking to at the interval and the team appeared to have found its feet in the second half. Firstly, though, Paraguay scored a memorable try which scrumhalf Gonzalo Bareiro finished off after Alvarenga had made an impressive break. It was the highlight of the match and put Paraguay out of Brazil's reach but the visitors did fight back to challenge but not catch the home sides lead.
Both countries scored three tries each with the boot of Alvarenga proving to be the difference as Paraguay celebrated a 31-24 victory. Brazil finished the tournament in second place due to Chile being badly defeated in Montevideo.