We take a look at how Los Condores rewrote history with the help of a Uruguayan Rugby World Cup legend.
While the Chilean team is foreign to the Rugby World CupHead Coach Pablo Lemoine’s relationship with the tournament is steeped in history.
The Uruguayan appeared at two Rugby World Cups for his home country, in 1999 and 2003, making seven tournament appearances.
The tight header started Los Teros’ first-ever Rugby World Cup game against Spain in 1999 before leaving the game’s biggest stage with a try in a record 111-13 loss to the eventual champions from England to Australia four years later.
Lemoine’s appointment as head coach of Los Teros in 2012 came with a stated goal of seeing Uruguay qualify for RWC 2015, the team having missed the previous two tournaments.
And amid emotional scenes in the capital of Montevideo, that goal was achieved, with Uruguay edging past Russia after the most dramatic repechage.
What Lemoine achieved with Uruguay was extraordinary, but his achievement in leading Chile to their first Rugby World Cup is perhaps even more impressive.
Lemoine, 47, has become head coach of Los Condores in August 2018 and, under him, they climbed to their highest position in the Men’s World Rugby Ranking powered by Capgeminiearning respect as one of the emerging rugby nations in the world.
Here we take a look at how they fared before Rugby World Cup qualification and the route they took to claim the Americas 2 ticket for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
As Americas 2, Chile will line up in RWC 2023 Pool D alongside England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa.
Distribution of qualifications for the Rugby World Cup:
1987 – Did not participate
1991 – Did not participate
1995 – Chile lost its three South American league games against Paraguay (25-24), Uruguay (14-6) and Argentina (70-7)
1999 – Chile started their campaign with victories against Trinidad and Tobago (35-6) and Bermuda (65-8). A 54-6 win over Paraguay then followed in the next leg, but a 20-14 loss to Uruguay ended their interest in the competition.
2003 – Chile beat Brazil (46-6) and Paraguay (57-5) to join Canada, Uruguay and the United States in the final stage of qualification where two places were available. Chile beat Uruguay (10-6) but failed to win another game
2007 – Chile again beat Paraguay (38-22) and Brazil (57-13) to reach the final round but missed out after defeats to Argentina (60-13) and Uruguay (43-15) )
2011 – Chile beat Brazil (79-3) but loss to Uruguay (46-9) ended their hopes of qualification
2015 – Chile beat Brazil again (38-22) but lost to Uruguay (23-9)
2019 – Chile’s dream was once again interrupted by Uruguay (27-11) after beating Brazil (15-10) and Paraguay (66-7)
The road to RWC 2023
Chile were scheduled to face Colombia in the first leg of the South American qualifier, but they got the win after the match was canceled due to COVID-19 cases in the Los Tucanes squad.
Chile took their place alongside Brazil and Uruguay in a round robin requiring a top two to stay in contention. They beat Brazil 23-13 but lost 15-10 to Uruguay as they led at half-time.
This pitted Chile against Canada, the losers of the Americas 1 play-off. Canada won the first leg 22-21 after Robbie Povey’s final penalty, but Chile prevailed 34-15 a week later thanks to the 23 points by Santiago Videla, ending Canada’s still-standing record at the Rugby World Cup.
It was therefore Chile who qualified for the play-off of the Americas 2, and a match of two against the United States.
Chile prepared for their biggest ever test with a 45-5 loss to Scotland A, in front of a crowd of 8,213.
Two weeks later, Los Condores returned to Estadio Santa Laura Universidad SEK in Santiago to face the Eagles and were beaten 22-21.
With just one point between the teams, Los Condores had every reason to believe their dream was not over and it did, with a 31-29 win in the return game in Glendale, Colorado sending them off.