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Uruguay's rugby team beefs up for Fiji match

Uruguay's rugby team beefs up for Fiji match

Posted by PanamericanWorld on October 07, 2015

But that is not how this group of largely amateur players is recovering from the 65-3 drubbing inflicted upon them by Australia in Group A.

Facing Fiji on Tuesday, the team is confident it has got a chance of winning.

"These are athletes," Pablo Lemoine, Uruguay's head coach says.

"We don't go onto the field to lose, and Fiji is one game we think we can win."

It is the first time in 12 years that Uruguay qualified for the World Cup and Lemoine, a former Stade Francais prop, says it is a steep learning curve.

"The difference between us and some of the teams we play is just enormous, so losing by a big margin is normal."

What is important for Lemoine is the progress the team has made in the past four years.

He says the players, almost all of whom were very inexperienced when they were chosen, have come a long way.

Some of them gave up their jobs to be able to train regularly.

This kind of sacrifice and dedication has given the team a level of cohesion which some better funded teams do not have, he insists.

Uruguay's number eight, Alejandro Nieto, embodies his coach's sentiments.

Nieto started playing rugby in school and joined a club at the age of 12.

The fact most of Uruguay's players are amateurs has made the team stronger, their coach says

He had to put his job as a financial consultant on hold to be able to dedicate more time to his team, which is called Los Teros (southern lapwings), after the birds which used to nest on the playing fields.

"We know we're fighting against the odds, but we actually enjoy measuring ourselves against stronger teams to see at what level we really are," he says.

"But within the team this makes us stronger, we don't play for money or fame, we play because we like to play and that shows on the field."

Commentators praised Los Teros for aiming to score a try in their match against Australia rather than just chasing points and kicking penalties.

Their failure to score a try so far at this year's World Cup is cited by the players as their biggest regret.

At 21, hooker German Kessler is Uruguay's youngest player.

He only took up rugby five years ago when he went along to a club with his older brother.

He has put his studies on hold to play for Los Teros.

For Kessler it is all about the future of the sport in his country.

"You're not going to get rich playing rugby in Uruguay," he laughs, "but I would like to see rugby evolve and more people to take up the sport."

That is also key for Los Teros' manager Santiago Slinger.

He says that the team's presence at the World Cup has led to a surge in interest in the team and the sport back in Uruguay, a nation traditionally focussed on football.

One secret weapon Uruguay are hoping will give them an advantage over Fiji is their diet.

The team has brought its own beef from Uruguay, provided by the country's National Meat Institute.

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