Friday, June 13, 2014

International Rugby: Uruguay looking to professionalize players

Photo La Seleccion
In an effort to leave no stone unturned the Uruguayan Rugby Union (URU) is moving to put Los Teros in the strongest possible position to secure qualification for Rugby World Cup 2015. Uruguay missed out on qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2007 after losing to Portugal by one point on aggregate while for Rugby World Cup 2011 Los Teros were over powered by Romania after the teams have competed to a draw in the first of two matches in Montevideo. To give Uruguay the greatest chance of securing qualification for Rugby World Cup 2015 the URU is looking to pay the players salaries so they can train instead of work.   

Closing the gap between Uruguay and Rugby World Cup participants is the focus of the URU and the union is set to take drastic actions to see Uruguay qualify for England & Wales 2015. The approach to be put into action is like nothing ever before - a manner in which the players can dedicate themselves entirely to the national rugby team in a manner which will put them in greater physical conditions and focus all efforts on repercharge qualification.

The move is actually something that has been suggested previous, by Teros players. 2014 began with players looking to increase funding as they established the Teros Fund, an initiative encouraging the general public to help fund rugby in the country. Talks between URU directors and members of the Teros squad concluded that a squad of approximately sixteen players are to receive compensation for the time that they will be away from work to focus on Rugby World Cup repercharge qualification.  

Uruguay's matches against the USA and Argentina earlier in the year were paramount to action being taken to help make Los Teros more competitive. Uruguay performed very well against the USA but the gap between the two countries ultimately came through to see the North Americans winning. At home against Argentina in the CONSUR Cup Uruguay was outplayed by not only a group of players with superior skills but also a group of much fitter players.

The players are to receive between UYU$10,000 and UYU$12,000 per month which is roughly US$434 and US$522 at the current point in time. Players are to therefore be on professional contracts with the URU and will be paid from July - October, the month in which Uruguay is to play in the Final Place Play-Off, should it firstly get past Hong Kong in August. 

Uruguay is one just eight countries still in with a chance of qualifying for the World Cup. As the winner of the South American regional qualifiers Uruguay faced the North American runner-up, the USA, and is now set to face the Asian runner-up, Hong Kong in August. A win over the Asian side would see Uruguay advance to the Final Place Play-Off to face either Russia, who defeated Germany recently, or the runner-up from Africa. 

Russia is to face Africa 2 which will be the runner-up of Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Africa 1 will play in the 2014 Africa Cup from June 28-July 6 with the winner securing qualification for Pool C of Rugby World Cup 2015, the pool which Argentina is to play in. Also still in contention are Oceanian nations Fiji and the Cook Islands. The winner will qualify for Pool A and have the honor of facing England in the opening match of the tournament in London. The loser will be eliminated.

Should Uruguay secure qualification it would also participate in Pool A, the tournament's Pool of Death. The Play-Off Winner is to begin the tournament outside of England. It will be against sub-hosts Wales at the Millennium Stadium. The Play-Off Winner will then face Australia in Birmingham seven days later before having a nine day turn-around that will see the Play_off Winner face Fiji / the Cook Islands in Milton Keynes. Lastly the Play-Off Winner will play against England in Manchester on a turn-around of just three days. 

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