Saturday 27 May 2006

Mendoza Province: Rugby at last!

I've finally managed to get some rugby onto the scene. Well, back in early April I saw probably the world's most southerly rugby club ground, in Ushuaia but no action. I met up with my 'uncle' Gustavo, who played in a first tier club in Argentina - obviously, it runs in the blood. He's now coaching his club's first team, Teqüe, in Mendoza.

What an awesome set up they have there! They've just moved their ground... actually, they've just bought a large piece of land outside Mendoza city, where they will have 3 rugby grounds and 1 for hockey (for the girls, women don't play rugby here, really). They have a brand new club house and a large parilla out the back, where they cooked a chivito (goat)... yum. They're going to build 84 houses around this area for the mutual owners of the land.

Well, on to the rugby. I was invited to coach their U13s but Gustavo had forgotten there was a tournament on so the kids would be playing. No problem. I watched them for a bit before tucking into the barbeque along with the directors of the club. I met an ex-Puma player and his brother, who plays for the Pumitas, the U21 national side. Both members of Teqüe. The Pumitas head coach was also there along with a director of the UAR (Union Argentina Rugby). All the players have just resigned over pay and conditions so they're scratching their heads about what to do, with the Welsh coming over for a couple of tests in a few days.

Later, the 1st team was playing. The match was between the two as yet unbeaten sides in the Cuyo (the area containing the Western provinces, just north of Patagonia) league: Teqüe v Marista. Unfortunately, by the end of the day, it was the oppo who remained unbeaten. Too much turnover ball at the breakdown meant that good attacking platforms were lost. I could almost hear Old Street coach Bailey groaning about body positions going into contact. First tackles were also missed, allowing the oppo to get behind and score a couple of tries. The final score: 3-20. I'm looking forward to next season, although I'm still not sure if I'll be in the UK. It depends on what happens with my MBA applications...