Rugby union in Chile
|Rugby union in Chile|
An English rugby union team in Valparaiso 1925.
|Governing body||Chilean Rugby Federation|
|First played||Late 19th century|
|Registered players||18,755 |
Rugby union in Chile is a fairly popular sport.
The Chilean Rugby Federation was founded on 4 May 1953 and governs the sport in Chile. Their statutes and regulations were officialized at 16 December 1963. It is affiliated to the Olympic Committee of Chile, the Confederación Sudamericana de Rugby, FIRA and World Rugby.
It was introduced by the British in the 19th century. It is believed that the first people who played it in Chile were the English who worked at the saltmines in Iquique. Rugby was also developed by the English private colleges. For many years it was a sport mostly played by the upper classes in Chile. The first teams appeared in Valparaíso and Santiago de Chile, who later formed the Unión de Rugby de Chile. The British influence can be noticed by the fact that several of the main Chilean teams have English names.
In South America, with the dominance of Argentina, Chile used to consider itself the best of the rest. This was confirmed in many people's minds when Chile won the second place in the 1981 South American Championship in the absence of Argentina. However, of the other South American nations only Uruguay has qualified for the Rugby World Cup.
In the late 1980s, former French coach Jean-Pierre Juanchich became national administrator of the sport, lending it some extra credibility. During the 1980s, Chilean rugby participation increased by 400%, and whereas it was previously confined to the cities of Santiago and Valparaíso, it began to spread throughout the country.
Flight 571 & "Alive"
The tragic crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, and the resulting books and films, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors and Alive brought Uruguayan and Chilean rugby into the global limelight. The Uruguayans were on tour, and had played several games in Argentina, and were due to play some return matches in Chile.
Alive tells the story of a Uruguayan Rugby team (who were alumni of Stella Maris College (Montevideo)) and their friends and family who were involved in the airplane crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. It was published two years after survivors of the crash were rescued.
Chile National Rugby Championship started in 1948, and its first winner was Prince of Wales Country Club.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rugby union in Chile.|
- Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)
- Starmer-Smith, Nigel (ed) Rugby - A Way of Life, An Illustrated History of Rugby (Lennard Books, 1986 ISBN 0-7126-2662-X)
- Thau, Chris The South American Scene in Starmer-Smith, Nigel & Robertson, Ian (eds) The Whitbread Rugby World '89 (Lennard Books, 1988 ISBN 1-85291-038-0)