Thursday, July 3, 2014

Los Pumas: Catamarca to host Rugby Championship Warm-up match

Photo: Platense a lo Ancho
The venue for one of Argentina's two home fixtures against Top 14 club Grenoble has been confirmed. The South Americans will host the French club side in two warm-up matches ahead of the 2014 Rugby Championship. On August 2 the Estadio Bicentenario Ciudad de Catamarca (pictured to the right) the city of  San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca in Catamarca Province will play host to one of two matches between the teams. Argentina's policy of allocating host fixtures to different cities rather than concentrating them in the capital has been a central feature of the case for the country to be allocated hosting rights to Rugby World Cup 2023. 

Grenoble's tour of Argentina is to continue with the pre-Rugby Championship tradition of Los Pumas preparing for the competition by playing host to professional teams from abroad. In 2012 Stade Français visited while in 2013 Australian province New South Wales did so. The match in Catamarca is to be the second of two matches against Grenoble. The venue for the first match, to be played on July 26,  is yet to be announced. 

Several days after the Catamarca fixture Los Pumas will travel to South Africa on August 6 and play a warm-up fixture against the University of Pretoria ahead of facing the Springboks in Pretoria on August 16. Argentina will play host to the reverse fixture in Salta on August 23, giving northern Argentina a first ever Rugby Championship fixture.

The Estadio Bicentenatrio Ciudad de Catamarca is also getting a first look at Los Pumas, but in a differing manner. Never before has the national rugby team played at the stadium. this will change on August 2 with the city being afforded the opportunity of seeing all of Argentina's starting players in the Rugby Championship squad play a match ahead of the demanding international competition in which the South Americans are in search of their first win.

The stadium opened in 2010 and has a capacity of 16,500 making it comparable to Gloucester's Kingshom which has been allocated four pool matches for Rugby World Cup 2015. It is also similar to venues including Napier, Nelson, Palmerston North and Whangarei which hosted Rugby World Cup matches in 2011.

Catamarca is located in western Argentina. The province shares an international border with Chile and provincial borders with Córdoba, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. The provincial capital has a population of just over 160,000 making it larger than the above mentioned Rugby World Cup host cities. The province's official population in 2010 was 367,820. 

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