Making friends through rugby

(IRB.COM) Sunday 20 April 2008
By Frankie Deges
From Santiago
 Making friends through rugby
Players from Uruguay and Jamaica get to know each other after their Pool B encounter at Stade Français Club

The dream of winning the inaugural IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy may still be alive for four of the eight teams taking part in the Chilean capital of Santiago, but that hasn’t stopped some teams from maintaining one of rugby’s traditions – the after-match.

A post-tournament party is planned once the action is completed on the field, but following the second match day on Saturday opponents came together at two venues to make new friends and learn about each other’s lives.

Martín Mendaro, one half of Uruguay’s coaching team, admitted that while there is a lot of work to do for everybody in a short and sweet tournament “we must never forget about sharing time with our opponents. That is why we play the game”.

Uruguay’s players ensured they got together right after the match with Jamaica, a side they had beaten 82-0 only minutes at the Stade Français Club to top Pool B on point differential from Georgia.

“I’ll come and stay in your house” was overhead, amidst much laughter, as in conversation a Uruguayan invited himself to visit Jamaica. Many of the Uruguayans speak English and the friendly Jamaicans have been a hit with their huge smiles and friendly approach to their first IRB international tournament at any level.
A similar picture unfolded across the capital at Estadio San Carlos where host nation Chile came together with Namibia, the team they had battled past 20-6 to remain unbeaten in Pool A.

The spirit of rugby was evident at both venues and will be on Sunday when Jamaica head coach Victor Hyde puts on his other hat as a chef having organised to feed his team and their invited guests for lunch – their new friends Georgia.

They may come from totally different worlds and the more experienced Georgia may have dominated their encounter to win 90-3, but the two teams have become good friends thanks to sharing the same hotel in Santiago.