Fiji sing along with contained passion before the Uruguay lads give it the full beans. If the result was based on that performance then Los Teros have just thumped Fiji. Unfortunately for them, it isn’t.
Fji give us a spirited Cibi dance and we’re nearly ready to go.
Here come the teams
The now familiar takai drum welcome greets the players before they line up. There’s genuinely emotional and moving scenes in the quiet dignity of the crowd during the moment’s silence to remember those lose lost in the tsunami of 2011.
There’s been much chat in the opening matches over the consistency or refereeing, our man Rob Kitson has a view
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Former Argentina scrum-half and now World Rugby senior suit Agustin Pichot is on the telly, talking about how the town of Kamaishi has been given hope and focus as a RWC venue after being devastated by the 2011 tsunami. Lovely, if bittersweet, story.
And unlike on his Twitter account he’s not taking the opportunity to have a right slag off of his own organisation’s rankings system, which makes a nice change.
Only three of the Fiji side that lost to Australia at the weekend remain in the starting fifteen today - Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, and Semi Radradra. Among the many changes, veteran and recent Harlequins signing Niki Goneva comes in, while Newcastle’s Josh Matavesi slots his considerable frame in at 10.
The experienced Felipe Berchesi - who plays his rugby at Dax in France - starts at fly-half for Uruguay, while the all heart and small frame captain Gaminera is at seven. He really is a joy to watch, that fella.
Fiji: Alivereti Veitokani; Filipo Nakosi, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatubua, Vereniki Goneva; Josh Matavesi, Henry Seniloli; Eroni Mawi, Mesulame Dolokoto, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Ratuva, Api Ratuniyarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Mosese Voka, Leone Nakarawa.
Replacements: Tuvere Vugakoto, Campese Ma’afu, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Tevita Cavubati, Samuel Matavesi, Nikola Matawalu, Ben Volavola, Levani Botia.
Uruguay: Gaston Mieres; Nicolas Freitas, Juan Manuel Cat, Andres Vilaseca, Rodrigo Silva; Felipe Berchesi, Santiago Arata; Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Diego Arbelo, Ignacio Dotti, Manuel Leindekar, Juan Manuel Gaminara (captain), Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana.
Replacements: Guillermo Pujadas, Facundo Gattas, Juan Pedro Rombys, Franco Lamanna, Juan Diego Ormaechea, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Etcheverry, Tomas Inciarte.
Hello to all of you joining us for our coverage of Fiji vs Uruguay.
Let’s be honest, a large number of us when asked what we know of rugby in Uruguay will probably answer that some of the players are not averse to eating one another when things get desperate. Outside of this macabre yet uplifting bit of their rugby history, we are all generally a little stumped when it comes to their on-field exploits, given we only see them sporadically in Rugby World Cups. This is the fourth tournament appearance for Los Teros, after previous showings in 1999, 2003 and 2015, winning two games in that entire history - one vs Spain in ‘99 and the other over Georgia four years later. Other that that the big tournament has been a tough old ride for the South Americans and four years ago they lost all four matches convincingly, including being on the wrong end of a 47-15 defeat against today’s opponents Fiji.
Despite the much heralded recent professionalisation processes put in place by their Union and World Rugby, which has Uruguay on their way to a sustainable Tier 2 future, it’s hard to see any other outcome that defeat for them in this their first game of 2019.
While Uruguay have been waiting this long to make a tackle or run in anger, this is Fiji’s second outing after their loss to Australia on Saturday. The islanders started that game in rampaging style before their opponents pulled themselves together to do the necessary - today will likely be all the former without the latter. This appears all the more inevitable when you consider the latest meeting between these two sides in Autumn 2018 saw Fiji run in ten tries to win 68-7.
This is set to be a long and humbling couple of hours for Uruguay whostill have a number of part time players and have the youngest squad at the tournament, average age just over 26 years.