Brazil will face one of its biggest-ever tests when it tackles Uruguay on Sunday, with a place on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 at stake.
The Charrúa Stadium will again be the venue for the final game of the round-robin South American tournament, which will decide who will compete for Americas 1 and who will continue in line for Americas 2.
Chile, the third team in this competition, will nervously await the outcome of this game as they have already secured their place in the running for the two continental spots, but whether they advance as South America 1 or 2 is to be decided.
Uruguay, veterans of four Rugby World Cups, will go into the game needing to take a minimum of one point from the game to ensure they continue on the journey to France 2023.
The calculator will need be on hand during the match, if the final outcome on RWC 2023 qualification is to be as tight as expected. Chile have five competition points – four for beating Brazil and one from their bonus-point 15-10 loss to Uruguay last Sunday. That match gave Los Teros four points and Brazil picked up no points from their 23-13 loss to Chile at the start of the tournament.
Uruguay were pushed to the limit by a Chilean side that came, literally, to within an inch of scoring a try under the posts in the 70th minute, a decision the referee had to take with the assistance of the TMO.
“We wanted it more than them,” RWC 2019 player Manuel Diana told Sudamerica Rugby’s Twitch TV programme. “It was a fair win as we defended our lead and we understood how to control the game even in deep defense.”
Experience, and the hard tackling of loose forward Diana, will count hugely towards the outcome of this weekend's match, which Uruguay need to win well to lay a marker ahead of what comes in the future.
Brazil have only beaten Los Teros twice in 27 games since they first clashed 60 years ago – their last win coming in 1964.
It is a huge mountain for Os Tupis to climb, and as much as Uruguayan rugby has grown in the last decade having embraced high performance, it has learned how to play through qualifying rounds. A win will place them on a direct course to play the winner of the series between USA and Canada. The winner of the clash between the top North and South American teams will join RWC 2023 hosts France, the All Blacks, Italy and Africa 1 in Pool A.
Brazil have been in Uruguay for three weeks now – Montevideo being a regional rugby hub due to its facilities and control of COVID-19.
The squad was present at the empty Charrúa Stadium – games are played without fans attending – and took many lessons from it. And more than that, hope.
“After the game against Chile, the spirit was down as we had high expectations. But we soon began to focus on how to get better for the game against Uruguay,” said winger Daniel Lima da Silva.
“Our goal was to beat Chile and we failed, but that is rugby. Now the focus is on Uruguay.
“We saw them against Chile and we are convinced it is not impossible,” added Lima da Silva, a try-scorer in the opening round.
To do that, the Brazilians will need to take a leaf out of Los Cóndores play-book and take the game to the Uruguayans.
“We saw that Cóndores put them under pressure and could have won. We want to create history.”
Brazil will need to win by more than 16 points and force Uruguay to not take points from this game.
Photo credit: Gaspafotos / Sudamérica Rugby