TOKYO, 14 Oct - Uruguay came to Rugby World Cup 2019 with the aim of showing the world how much they had evolved as a national team and depart having achieved that goal.
Ranked 18th in the world, Los Teros were never expected to make it out of the pool stages for the first time in four World Cup appearances. They enjoyed their finest hour in a 30-27 opening-match victory over Fiji - celebrating their third World Cup win, as shown above.
Despite three subsequent defeats that left them bottom of Pool D, Uruguay can also be proud of holding Wales to a one-point lead, 7-6, at half-time, before going down 35-13. They showed their fighting spirit despite some lopsided scorelines, scoring a try in every match they played for the first time, including one by Andres Vilaseca against Georgia, shown below.
A young team, with the lightest scrum in the tournament, Uruguay gained rare and invaluable experience in world-class rugby which will help them to identify the deficiencies they need to address in their game.
Argentinian coach Esteban Meneses's future may be uncertain now, as he will soon be out of contract with the Uruguayan Rugby Union, but he has plenty to feel proud of in this team. The players showed up and each and every one of them was clinical in their game plan to overthrow Fiji.
Player of the tournament
If there is one trait that defines Uruguay, it is the absence of a single outstanding player. Their biggest strength is how united and dedicated they are. After their victory against Fiji, both Los Teros’ captain Juan Manuel Gaminara, and Player of the Match Felipe Berchesi, echoed the sentiment that they had all worked together as a team.
Memorable moment off the pitch
Asados (a South-American barbeque) and maté tea. The grill followed the team everywhere around Japan. Whenever the need arose, a fire would be lit and the smell of grilled steak would linger in the air. Maté tea, on the other hand, is the country’s national beverage and is essential. Any time is good to brew one and spark up a leisurely conversation.
Memorable moment on the pitch
Uruguay has seldom been able to celebrate such an epic, memorable and well engineered victory as their World Cup milestone against Fiji in Kamaishi. It was Los Teros' third RWC victory, after 1999 and 2003 wins over Spain and Georgia respectively.
On the back of their victory against Fiji and the matches against Australia and Wales, Uruguay are now looking for broader international exposure - ideally, with two test matches in July and another two in November against low-ranking Tier 1 and high-ranking Tier 2 nations. World Rugby’s investment bore its fruit and Uruguay is now hungry for more progress.
How did they do?
Beat Fiji 30-27 in Kamaishi
Lost to Georgia 33-7 in Kumagaya
Lost to Australia 45-10 in Oita
Lost to Wales 35-13 in Kumamoto
Uruguay by numbers
812 – Uruguay’s combined pack weight differed with Australia's by almost 90kg. As it also did with Georgia's. It was the tournament’s lightest pack.
26 – The team’s age average makes it the youngest at the RWC 2019.
4 – Uruguay scored tries in all of their RWC 2019 matches, against every opponent. This is without precedent.
0 – Uruguay did not face a single Tier 1 nation between RWCs 2015 and 2019.
30 – Uruguay managed to improve their overall tally in a single RWC match. They scored 30 points against Fiji, improving their previous total of 27, in 1999, against Spain.