ODD JOB MEN: The vast majority of Uruguay's World Cup squad are amateurs
CARDIFF, 21 Sept – Only four members of Uruguay's Rugby World Cup 2015 are squad professional players, meaning the rest of the team face the difficult task of combining their commitments to the national side with their day jobs and family lives.
Among the 31 players who travelled to the United Kingdom, all of whom are making their RWC debut, are a doctor, an agronomist, a financier, a graphic designer, a dotcom entrepreneur, a PR man and an advertising executive, as well as several students.
Team captain Santiago Vilaseca (URU) works in a bank but has already used up this year’s vacation allowance by travelling to play abroad, and was forced to take two months’ unpaid leave in order to lead his side into the RWC.
“After work I arrive home at around 8pm, to start again at 7am the next day with practice,” he said.
“And his wife is not very happy,” the team’s head coach Pablo Lemoine (URU) jokingly added as Vilaseca recounted his struggle to play on the team while earning a living.
His teammate Alejo Corral (URU) is in a similar situation, although he lives in Argentina, where he works in the communications department of the Buenos Aires city government's security ministry.
“It is a lot of sacrifice, a lot of input, and you are never at home,” he said.
“You have to combine family life and work life with training, and you don’t have the hours that a professional player has to relax. You have to go to work, train very hard, with the body very tired, and you have to go and sit behind a desk.”
In Argentina he plays rugby for San Isidro Club, one of the country’s most successful, with 25 championship titles in the first division of the Argentina Rugby Union, most recently in 2011.
LIVING THE DREAM
“I’m lucky because my boss supports me and the people I work with are very proud of me. Those hours of rest are the difference to being able to recover but you are there working, and that doesn’t let you focus on rugby because you have to concéntrate on other things and you have to attend to other demands. You support your family, and not with rugby, so the sport is in second place due to obligations,"Corral said.
“But nobody obliges me to play, I play because it is my passion. It’s my hobby. I’ve been playing rugby since I was six years old and to be part of a Rugby World Cup is impossible to explain. It gives me a lot.”
The team's professional players are Agustín Ormaechea, Mario Sagario and Felipe Berchesi, who play in France, and Gastón Mieres, who plays for Italy's Valpolicella.
After putting up a fight in a 54-9 defeat by Wales in the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, Uruguay play their second match of the RWC against Australia on Sunday 27 September.