Uruguay bask in short-lived glory after beating Namibia in Rugby World Cup

Uruguay bask in short-lived glory after beating Namibia in Rugby World Cup

The Straits Times - Sports·2023-09-28 19:10

LYON – Uruguay savoured their victory over Namibia on Wednesday all the more as they were well aware the opportunity to add another success in the Rugby World Cup might not come any time soon.

The South Americans made the most of Namibia's ill-discipline to stage a second-half comeback and prevail 36-26 to avoid finishing bottom of Pool A.

With New Zealand and France also in the group, Uruguay were aiming to beat Italy and Namibia and although they lost 38-17 to the Azzurri, it was mission accomplished against the African side.

“We are going to celebrate this victory. Uruguay has only had three wins in the World Cup, the fourth win was really important. Namibia was our last objective,” captain Andres Vilaseca said.

“Now we are going to enjoy the week and then play the best team in the world (New Zealand on Oct 5). We don’t know if we will have a chance to play in the World Cup again.”

Uruguay were 20-12 behind at the break but Namibia were heavily penalised in the second half, picking up a yellow and red card and running out of steam as they suffered their 26th World Cup straight loss since their debut in 1999.

Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses was thrilled with the fightback and said his team had prepared to make history.

“We were unsuccessful against Italy but this team never lost hope,” he added.

“We knew it would be difficult, we knew they would give everything but we managed to make the difference.”

Vilaseca, meanwhile, believes his team’s success is also due to their participation in the Super Rugby Americas, a professional club competition won by Uruguay’s Penarol in 2022 and 2023.

“The Super Rugby competition helped a lot. Rugby in South America changed a lot from 2020,” he said.

“We now have a lot of professional players, we have a first-class stadium. It certainly helped us to play here at the level we have. There’s no doubt about it, that is the solution to closing the gap for the Tier 2 nations.”

In contrast, Namibia captain Tjiuee Uanivi called on his national federation to learn the lessons from South America.

Besides Uruguay pushing Tier 1 nations France and Italy close, debutants Chile also scored tries against both Japan and Samoa before running out of steam against England.

While Uanivi pleaded for more matches, like all Tier 2 nations do, he said a professional franchise would also make a huge difference.

“I’m not sure how many tests we played in four years (since the last World Cup), I think it’s single digits,” he said.

“When you come to this level without the experience of playing tests and the group coming together for a long time, that’s what you’ll get,” he added about the team’s four pool defeats, which included a 96-0 thrashing by France.

“It’s about playing more competitive games against Tier 1 teams... I think it would be massive.

“And the challenge also goes out to our union... it is to get a franchise which is professional, same as the likes of the South American teams.” REUTERS, AFP


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