|Photo: Soy Deportista|
Argentina's neighbor across the Rio de la Plata has had a memorable year both on and off the field. Rugby in the country has, for the first time, made moves to have leading domestic based players paid to train on a full time basis while the test side qualified for a first Rugby World Cup since 2003. Together these important realizations combined with rugby's growth and Argentina being an important global player the future appears bright for all rugby in South America. Uruguay newspaper El Observador suggests so in confirming that in 2014 a record number of almost 9,500 people are now playing the sport in Uruguay.
2014 marked a record for rugby in Uruguay. It was confirmed that for the first time over 9,000 people are playing the sport in the country. With Los Teros participating in Rugby World Cup 2015 and neighbors Argentina being one of the Semi Finals contenders there is every reason to believe that the Uruguayan Rugby Union (URU) will announce a number of players greater than 10,000 in late 2015.
The number just below 9,500 is, according to leading Uruguayan rugby writer, Ignacio Chans covering all of the pyramid from Los Teros to the thousands of children that were involved with rugby both at private and public schools. Chans states that there are 2,000 registered players from under 15 to the senior level who are part of the formal and competitive structure who are considered for international duty at both the junior and senior levels.
These players are complemented by a growing number in the development phases. A total of 7,500 people are actively playing the sport in other categories including women's rugby, Sevens and junior teams based outside of the capital. They are the growing base for the future, a future of greater possibilities for Uruguayan rugby.
A total of 3,000 children are learning how to play rugby in public schools thanks to the different programs being run by the URU, ANEP and UTU. Chans points out that the objective is to double or even triple these numbers in the coming years by deepening the agreements with public and private education.
Of note is that of the children half of them are girls which ties in to the interests of World Rugby with the global governing body having instructed member unions that it is looking to increase participation across the board including in both women's sevens rugby. The entity is looking to do so to showcase the growth of the sport as it enters the Olympic Games in 2016.
Uruguay will face Australia, England, Fiji and Wales in Rugby World Cup 2015. The campaign that awaits the South Americans is extremely challenging and winning will be tough but the URU is actively preparing by having the building bricks to form a noteworthy path of a High Performance evolution.