By Frankie Deges
Hosting an international tournament is always a bigger challenge for the home team as the weight of expectations can be a huge. Despite this, Chile will for a second time in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy play at home.
In what will be their fourth participation in the tournament’s six-year history, Chile’s Under 20s hope to showcase the talent of a group of young players that have been preparing now for a couple of seasons with the goal of performing at this highest level.
Experienced Rodrigo Boyé has been involved in each of Chile’s previous Trophy campaigns. Runners-up in the inaugural tournament on home soil in Santiago in 2008, Chile dropped to third in Kenya in 2009, returning to the tournament last year in Salt Lake City, USA, to claim fifth place.
“The goal this year is to play our best possible rugby against top quality opposition,” admitted Boyé, an assistant coach to national head coach Omar Turcumán.
“We want to finish as high as we possibly can, always taking each game individually. A tournament as tough as this one gives you no margin for error: this means each game is in essence a final. And Chile has four finals to prove themselves.”
VIDEO: Total Rugby preview JWRT 2013
Chile will kick-off their 2013 campaign against JWRT debutants Portugal, followed by the toughest of opponents Italy and Namibia, the only Pool A team they’ve met before at this level, recording a 20-6 win in 2008.
“The Trophy gets harder every year. If you look at the nations that will be coming to Antofagasta, the high standard is a given. For all of us playing in northern Chile it will be a great experience.”
Boyé will be coaching the team with Turcumán and former national captain Raúl Marín.
“We had regular camps every few weeks but we’ve now them brought closer, one per week, with tours like the one we did to Argentina and matches against local opposition to give our players match action.”
In the final stages of their preparations, the matches have been against adult teams to ensure the standard is higher.
With nine players available from last year’s Trophy, this is an experienced Chilean team and includes four players based overseas – two at US universities and two in New Zealand – who should be available for selection.
Fulfilling a dream
“Most of them are playing senior club rugby which is of course a bonus. Furthermore, the new players are very good players which allows us to have a solid team in 2013,” added Boyé.
Chile boast a record of eight wins and four losses on the Junior World Rugby Trophy stage, the most painful undoubtedly the loss to Uruguay in the 2008 final. The tournament has also provided a stepping stone to the Test arena with 18 players have gone from Under 20s to pay for Los Cóndores.
“We have been able to see some of our players blossom and represent our country. Some of them will be involved in the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying round that starts soon,” added Boyé.
The former Chile hooker did not have to think long when asked about his best memory from his experiences of the Junior World Rugby Trophy.
“The best memories from previous Trophy’s have been the opportunity to share an international event with young players wanting to fulfil their rugby dreams, enjoying the honour of representing their country.”
Only time will tell if the class of 2013 are able to claim the title and with it promotion to the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 in New Zealand.
Chile results on JWRT stage
2012 – Salt Lake City
Chile 53-19 Russia
Chile 25-54 USA
Chile 14-41 Tonga
Fifth place play–off: Chile 43-31 Canada
2009 – Nairobi
Chile 49-21 Korea
Chile 50-22 Papua New Guinea
Chile 20-26 Romania
Third place play-off: Chile 19-17 Kenya
2008 – Santiago
Chile 33-10 Cook Islands
Chile 20-6 Namibia
Chile 14-3 Romania
Final: Chile 8-20 Uruguay
By Frankie Deges