World Rugby: March 29, 2016 – Uruguay are currently finalising their squad to travel to Zimbabwe for another shot at the World Rugby U20 Trophy, a title they won when the tournament was first held in 2008 in Chile.
Los Teritos finished third last year after a pulsating 44-43 victory over Tonga on the final day in Portugal but the goal is not just to win another title, rather to develop the next generation of test players for Uruguay.
Forty-four players have, to date, played in the U20 Trophy and gone on to play test rugby for Uruguay, as well as another five through the U20 Championship, a tournament Los Teritos graced in 2009 as winners of the inaugural Trophy.
The value of that pathway to Uruguayan rugby was highlighted by the make-up of their Rugby World Cup 2015 squad with 21 of the 30 players selected having played in either the U20 Trophy or Championship.
Our goal is, as it has always been, to promote players to the full national team and if we do that in the long run, we will have been successful, explained Los Teritos manager Alvaro Mastroianni.
With only 10-12 club teams to select from, the new High Performance Centre at the Estadio Charra in Montevideo has been of huge assistance in preparing these players.
NO EASY CHALLENGE
Being able to have all the elite players under one roof is very important for a small developing rugby scene as ours, explained Mastroianni, adding that as fantastic as it is, costs are huge and we have to work very hard to ensure we can sustain the preparation of our national teams.
This 2016 team is, unlike some other Uruguayan teams, small in size yet very able with the ball in hand.
What we might lack weight and strength we will try to overcome with speed and ability, he added.
We have been together since securing the place for the Trophy last year in the South American Championship so that is important. We did lose a couple of key players to injury, but we are adjusting fairly well.
Uruguay have been handed a tough draw at the U20 Trophy as they will face Fiji at Harare Sports Club on 19 April, then hosts Zimbabwe four days later with their final Pool A match against Samoa the side relegated from the U20 Championship last year on 27 April.
None will be easy and they will all be bigger than us, admitted Mastroianni.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
The squad will include a few well-known surnames in Uruguayan rugby. Fly-half Felipe Etcheverrys (pictured) older brother Jernimo won the Trophy in 2008 and played at RWC 2015, while Toms Inciartes father Nicols coached Uruguay at RWC 2003 with Diego Ormaechea, the father of Iaki.
Centre Iaki is the third Ormaechea brother to play in the U20 Trophy after flanker Juan Diego (14 tests) was in the title-winning side of 2008 and scrum-half Agustn (28 tests, including four at RWC 2015) played in Tbilisi in 2011.
Father Diego (54 tests) is the oldest player and try-scorer at a Rugby World Cup, having captained Uruguay on their tournament debut in 1999 and returned as coach four years later.
We want to win games, but the goal is to promote players. The Trophy has sent many players on to play for Uruguay at test level and hopefully some of these players will eventually play full international rugby, added Mastroianni.
Before flying to Zimbabwe for the 19 April to 1 May tournament, Los Teritos hope to play one last preparation game, possibly against Argentina who are currently preparing for World Rugby U20 Championship in England in June.