Hosts Chile were the first team to land in Temuco ahead of the sixth edition of IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, which takes place in the city from 28 May to 9 June.
The Chileans, led by coach Omar Turcumán and captain Sergio Bascuñán, were met by a large media contingent as well as local dignitaries who were instrumental in moving the Trophy to southern Chile after issues beyond the IRB’s control forced the original destination of Antofagasta to be cancelled.
“We are happy that it will be played in Temuco,” said vice captain Francisco Urroz before the squad headed off for a two-day training camp outside the city. “We played here last year against a local club and we know how well hosted this tournament will be.”
A fly half in the Chile Under side that secured fifth place in last year’s Trophy at Salt Lake City, he welcomes the possibility of playing at home.
“It adds to the pressure on us, but it is good to be able to play in your country, with passionate fans. We have a team with many new players but should be ready when the time comes.
“Our team goal is to be in the final, but the first objective is to finish better placed than last year. We have a tough pool and have seen some footage of Italy and Portugal, nothing yet on Namibia. But we don’t want to jump ahead: it is game by game.”
The team’s official included the dancing of a cueca – local dance – by the Ballet Folklórico Temuco, balloons and welcome boards produced by students from the local Liceo Bicentenario.
Governor Andrés Molina Magofke of the Araucania Region and Temuco Mayor Miguel Becker presented the squad with a Trarilonko, an ancient hairband used by Mapuche men and women, made by hand with sheep wool, dyed with natural herbs, tree leaves and roots.
Mayor Becker, who has pledged to be at the airport to greet each of the other seven teams, said: “We welcome you with open arms and warm hearts. We’ve worked very hard to ensure you can enjoy our city and our region.”
After the welcome, the Chile team drove 70 kilometres south to Villarica, with Japan, who had a training session in Santiago as they waited for their connecting flight, to be the first visiting team to fly into Temuco.
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