Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 A year of Rugby, Part 2

I will now look at each region and work my way through the nations of that region from the bottom up. Part 2 looks at South America, or its official IRB name CONSUR (Confederation Sudamericana de Rugby).

The 2008 CONSUR B tournament was held in Asuncion, Paraguay and signalled that nations return to international rugby after an absence of 3 years. The tournament was also part of the 2011 World Cup qualifying process, the winner playing the North American zone winner in order to proceed.

Peru lost all their games and finished last. They hosted the 2007 tournament in Lima where they did well in only losing to tournament winner Brazil. They lost heavily in all their games except for the 20-25 loss to Colombia. They dropped from 6th Ranking in 2007.

Colombia hold the same ranking as in 2007, again managing to win only one of its games, a close 25-20 win over Peru. They have never got close to either Brazil nor Paraguay, the top seeds in CONSUR B.

Venezuela was the first CONSUR B winner outside of Brazil and Paraguay to play in CONSUR A against the likes of Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. This took place in 2004 but it was a disaster. Venezuela were well below the required standard losing all the games heavily, including 147-7 against Argentina. That little experiment would not be repeated. In 2008 though, and against similiar standards, they fared better than their last in 2007. Wins over Colombia and Peru ensured a better placing, but they lost heavily to both Paraguay and Brazil.

What a disappointment 2008 turned out for the Paraguayans. A self imposed exile from international rugby to build their strength and their finances failed in the last match of the tournament. Brazil caused a major upset to topple the hosts 15-6.

In winning this tournament Brazil won the right to play Trinidad and Tobago for the right to proceed in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers. Their 15-6 win over Paraguay was their first since 1979. They won all their other tournament matches easily. Brazil also qualified for the World Table because they played against Trinidad and Tobago, outside their region.

The Chileans failed to improve on their position from 2007. They lost 71-3 to Argentina 'A' and 46-12 to Uruguay to record a most disappointing season. Their standard has slipped since the expansive days of 2001-2004 when Chile made a huge effort to play outside their zone.

Uruguay cemented its place in South American rugby underneath the Argentinians with a 46-12 win at home against Chile and a 8-43 loss to Argentina 'A' in May. A trip to the USA in early November with a below par side registered a loss 43-9. Earlier, Uruguay travelled to Bucharest to play in the IRB Nations Cup. They played impressively to hold Romania 6-10, Georgia 18-20 and finally Russia 19-23.

Argentina hold their top position without being threatened. Their 'A' side did the job comfortably. Argentina is of course concentrating their efforts with the No.1 side, using the CONSUR tournaments to blood their home-based players into international rugby.

Part 3 will look at the Oceania Zone.

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