Pool D: Uruguay ready for successive RWC appearances

Spirited Los Teros will to well to avoid anything other than four pool stage defeats

Uruaguay’s Felip Berchesi in action against Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

Uruaguay’s Felip Berchesi in action against Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

 

Uruguay

Who are they?

Uruguay are making their fourth appearance at the Rugby World Cup and are appearing at back-to-back tournaments for the first time, having featured in 1999, 2003 and 2015. But a sobering few weeks could be in store for Los Teros, who look the weakest relation in a pool also containing Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia.

Qualification for Uruguay was a lengthy process. They won the South American Rugby Championship in 2016 and 2017 - beating Brazil, Chile and Paraguay on both occasions. They then progressed to the Americas play-off in 2018, in which they recorded two eye-catching wins over Canada - 38-29 in Vancouver and 32-31 at home in Montevideo. Uruguay were also grouped with Wales, Australia and Fiji at the 2015 Rugby World Cup - along with tournament hosts England. They conceded 226 points across their four pool matches - an average of 56.5 per match. An improvement on that showing - as well as giving Georgia a rattle in their second fixture - will represent a good tournament.

Uruaguay head coach Esteban Meneses. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty
Uruaguay head coach Esteban Meneses. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty

The coach

Esteban Meneses is a former Argentinean flanker, who plied his trade in Italy at the turn of the millennium after a lengthy spell with his home team La Plata - the capital city of Buenos Aires province. Meneses took over from Pablo Lemoine in the wake of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, having been recommended by then Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade. Meneses helped mastermind qualification for Japan via victory over Canada meaning Los Teros have enjoyed a far longer preparation than normal, with the side normally having to go through the repechage system. Meneses has put a strong emphasis on fitness in the lead-up to September’s tournament.

The captain

Standing at just five feet seven, Juan Manuel Gaminara is a certainly on the smaller end of the scale when it comes to international flankers. Yet the 30-year-old has earned 67 caps across the backrow since his debut against Romania in 2010, and is one of 12 Uruguay players in the current squad who went to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, starting in all four pool fixtures. What Gaminara lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in heart.

The one to watch

Another survivor from the 2015 tournament, Felipe Berchesi plies his trade for US Dax - who play in the French second division - after arriving in France from Italy in 2014. A former Sevens player, Berchesi is a creative presence at 10 and a proper playmaker, but is also capable off the tee and an effective kicker out of hand. The 28-year-old has earned 32 caps since his debut against Portugal in 2011 - notching up 287 points in the process.

Uruguay captain Juan Manuel Gaminara in action against Japan in 2015. Photograph: Ken Ishii/Getty
Uruguay captain Juan Manuel Gaminara in action against Japan in 2015. Photograph: Ken Ishii/Getty

Their RWC moment

Perhaps Uruguay’s finest Word Cup moment was their first one - a 27-15 win over Spain in Galashiels in their opening fixture of the 1999 tournament. Their only other win came against Georgia in 2003 - a 24-12 victory in Sydney.

Best RWC finish

Pool stages: 1999, 2003, 2015

You bet

5000-1 (Oddschecker)

The verdict

Georgia have improved beyond recognition since their defeat to Uruguay at the 2003 tournament - it would be a massive surprise if Los Teros escaped with anything other than four defeats in Japan.

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