Uruguay bask in short-lived glory
LYON, France: Uruguay savoured their victory over Namibia on Wednesday (Sep 27) all the more as they were well aware the opportunity to add another World Cup success 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, who leave the World Cup without a victory.
“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 told a press conference.
“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 defeat going back to their debut in 1999.
“We managed to keep our tempers,” Vilaseca added.
“A few years ago, I think it would have been more difficult for us. We were hungry for a win and were are delighted that we have been successful.”
Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses 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 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,” said Vilaseca.
“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 two nations.”