Uruguay will face a new experience on Sunday – they head into the final round of the World Rugby Nations Cup with a big chance of coming out of it as champions. Having won the previous two games, if they beat Spain, the trophy will be theirs for the first time.
As never before, this Nations Cup has been extremely competitive with a potential champion in every one of the three games to be played at the Charrúa Stadium in Montevideo. But the only team that owns its own fate is the home side.
Russia and Argentina XV have seven log points, two fewer than first-place Teros with nine. They must win their games (against Namibia and Emerging Italy, respectively) and then await the outcome of the game between the Uruguayans and Spaniards for final standings.
Namibia, with six tournament points also stand a mathematical chance of finishing first although the number of circumstances that need to occur make it highly improbable. Emerging Italy, pointless, will try to rescue some pride before they return home.
Uruguay's fate is in their own hands
The format awards four points for a win, two for a draw, with bonus points for scoring four or more tries and for losing by seven points or fewer. In the event of a position being level, the winner will be decided by the team with the best points difference in the tournament.
Having beaten Emerging Italy 30-21 and Russia 32-29, Uruguay only need a win of any kind to celebrate. That will not be an easy task as they face a Spanish team that beat them last November in Málaga, 33-16. So far, the series is drawn five wins each.
Heavy rain on Saturday morning promises it will be a heavy field affecting how both teams will try to play, as they aim for a win. Former Munster prop Mario Sagario, involved in his fourth RWC qualifying processes, looks forward to playing for Los Teros against Spain.
He said: “We are enjoying ourselves. This is new and we are making sure we make the most of it. We have been working hard towards this and it has come right for us in the past few weeks. We have been very serious about the Nations Cup as it is great preparation for what lies ahead, which is the qualifying process to Rugby World Cup.”
Los Teros play loser of USA v Canada for RWC 2019 spot
Los Teros, currently in 21st position in the World Rugby Rankings, will be interested spectators when USA (ranked 17) play Canada (ranked 23) on 24 June and 1 July, as they will play the loser of that two-leg tie for the right to qualify for RWC 2019 as Americas 2. The winner of that North American derby over the two matches in Hamilton, Ontario, and San Diego, California, will slot into Pool A as Americas 1 along with England, France, Argentina and Oceania 2.
“We are very aware of the World Rugby Rankings because we know a big part of our possibilities of going directly to RWC 2019 is there.”
If Uruguay are higher ranked than their opponents, they will finish the two-game qualifying series early next year at home. Home advantage was crucial for them qualifying to RWC 2003 and 2015.
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