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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Lemoine warns of financial crisis
Pablo Lemoine
Lemoine is wary of the financial impact on Uruguayan rugby
Uruguayan prop Pablo Lemoine has urged his country's rugby authorities to dramatically increase financial support to the game or face the collapse of the sport.

The International Rugby Board currently provides some financial backing to Uruguayan rugby.

But Lemoine argued the amount needs to be hiked up drastically as the national side prepares for only their second World Cup.

He told the BBC Sport website: "We definitely need more money.

"At the moment the IRB helps small countries like us but they need to understand that it's still very difficult for us.

"Rugby is not that popular here as everything is football, football, football. It's hard to change that and the IRB needs to do more and show it is serious in promoting the game in South America.

"If it doesn't change its help for small countries, I don't know if rugby in Uruguay could ever progress or develop. That lack of money could even stop the national team existing in the future."

Uruguay, grouped with England, South Africa, Samoa and Georgia, are expected to be among the strugglers at the World Cup.

And Lemoine warned he and his team would barely be kitted out for the matches, such is the financial plight.

The World Cup means our players are missing out on their livelihood
Pablo Lemoine

He added: "We don't want the money so much for the players but for the structure. We need boots and shirts to play rugby. We don't even have insurance and the problem goes on from there."

Lemoine is a rarity in the squad as one of only four players with a professional contract in Europe.

He plays for French first division side Stade Francais, but appreciates that other players are far less fortunate.

"Rugby in Uruguay is really, really amateur," said Lemoine. "Most of the players are amateur and have jobs during the day before coming to training.

"So for them the World Cup means they're missing out on their livelihood."

The sport is growing in popularity in Uruguay, but currently there are just 12 clubs and 1,000 senior players.

But the Uruguayan Rugby Union has already developed a national rugby stadium, the Parque Federico Omar Saroldi in Montevideo.

Despite that, Lemoine believes Uruguay are still lagging behind other rugby minnows.

He said: "Georgia and Romania have the same problem but they are in Europe and hence it's much easier getting help there from other European teams. We, on the other hand, are slightly stranded in South America."

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