RWC 2023 review: Chile

RWC 2023 review: Chile

Thousands of colourful fans, hundreds of crunching tackles and one inspirational captain: Chile's Rugby World Cup debut will live long in the memory - and offers hope for the future.

Abiding memory

The colour and noise of Chile's first-ever Rugby World Cup game - against Japan in Toulouse - is something nobody who was there, or even watching on television, will ever forget. After a stirring national anthem, Los Cóndores then sent their 10,000-plus supporters at the stadium into dreamland by scoring the first try of the game in the sixth minute. Pure rugby folklore.


Try of the tournament

Fly-half Rodrigo Fernández's opening effort - one of four tries Chile scored in the tournament - will live long in the memory but the one that best epitomised their collective effort was scored by replacement hooker Tomás Dussaillant in their final Pool D match. The whole team joined the rolling maul that pushed him over the line and the crowd at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes erupted more loudly than for any of the eight tries Argentina scored that day.

Quote that said it all

Captain and flanker Martín Sigren impressed every time he spoke but he summed up his team's Rugby World Cup experience perfectly after the game against Samoa in Bordeaux on 16 September: "I feel so alive being in the middle of all this."

Man of the moment

Again, Sigren. Chosen by coach Pablo Lemoine as his captain early on, he made believers out of his team-mates and led Chile to Rugby World Cup qualification for the first time. At 27, he should be around in four years' time, too.


One for the future

A versatile back who can kick goals, Matías Garafulic, 23, was meant to be one for the present but injury ruled him out of the tournament soon after arriving in France. Should be a mainstay of the team by 2027.


From the Touchline

Who could forget the way Brittany seaside town Perros-Guirec embraced the Chile team as their own? They turned out in their thousands for an open training session ahead of the game against England.

Key statistics

With a minority of territory and possession, it's no surprise that, by the time they bowed out of RWC 2023, Chile had made more tackles than any other team, 529. But they never lost their appetite - demonstrated by Domingo Saavedra's take-down of Argentina's Lucio Cinti in Los Cóndores's final pool game.

But the real magic number for Chile was four - the number of sets of brothers in their original 33-man squad - including Diego and Alfonso Escobar, pictured below after starting together against Japan. Trivia fans: rejoice!

Editor’s verdict

Assisted by Sudamérica Rugby and World Rugby, Pablo Lemoine – who played for Uruguay at two Rugby World Cups and coached them at another – turned Chile from rugby also-rans into World Cup qualifiers. Having won hearts and minds with their passion and ambition at RWC 2023, Chile will hope to return in four years’ time, with Lemoine having signed a new contract and most of the squad young enough to still be around.

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