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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK
Uruguay find World Cup footing
Uruguay's only previous appearance at the World Cup in 1999 has acted as a huge spur to the sport in the country.

Forever in the sporting shadow of neighbours Argentina, rugby is no exception to the rule.

However, since 1999, Uruguay's results against the Pumas have improved to the degree that in 2001 they almost won their first match in 28 outings against the old enemy.

Uruguay's Fernando Sosa Diaz against Scotland in 1999
Played 3 - W:1 L:2
1987: Did not participate
1991: Did not qualify
1995: Did not qualify
1999: Pool stage
And despite the 32-27 defeat in Canada, like 1999 it will act as a boost to the sport.

Four years ago they opened their account with victory over Spain - a minnows final of sorts.

Uruguay, one of only two sides at the tournament, along with Argentina, to field entirely home born-and-bred players, Uruguay took the spoils in an impressive 27-15 victory.

Two late breakaway tries by full-back Alfonso Cardoso and substitute Juan Mancheca sealed a victory that was never in doubt.

Unsurprisingly, back-to-back defeats against Scotland and South Africa followed, although Uruguay equipped themselves well.

Fearsome tackling against a tentative Scottish side was a hallmark of their game, and although they shipped more than 40 points, they conceded only four tries.

Five followed against South Africa, but again Uruguay emerged with credit.

They prevented South Africa from scoring for a 35-minute spell from shortly before half-time when Brendan Venter was sent off for stamping.

Prior to their debut, Uruguay was famous in rugby terms for the sensational story of 16 club players surviving a plane crash in the Andes in 1972.

The Old Christians Rugby Club were flying to Chile for a match when their plane came down in the snow-clad mountains.

While 16 people died on impact and another 13 in the ensuing 72-day ordeal, miraculously 16 survived in a story that became immortalised by the book and the film "Alive".

Following their efforts in Scotland, a football nation had a new sport to follow, and the authorities will be hoping they attract more supporters this time around.

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