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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Horses for courses
Diego Ormaechea
Ormaechea will forget his horses for the World Cup
Professional sportsmen are renowned for their love of the horses.

Whether it be putting up some money for a share in one or simply following the form and placing a bet, sportsmen and women from all avenues are regularly spotted down the race track.

Among those who relish in following the nags is Uruguayan coach Diego Ormaechea.

The former international prop is one of his country's leading horse racing vets and will will have to put his passion aside for the rugby World Cup.

From early in the morning he tends to many of Uruguay's and South America's leading runners, but by the evening his attention turns to his second passion - rugby.

He explained to the BBC Sport website: "I have to work with my horses in the day and think only of my horses during that time.

"Then when the working day is over, it's on to my next job - the Uruguay rugby team."

30/8/03: Lost to USA 31-17
27/8/03: Lost to Arg 57-0
23/8/03: Lost to Can 21-11
3/5/03: Lost to Argentina 32-0
30/4/03: Beat Paraguay 53-7
30/8/03: Beat Chile 20-13

Uruguay's coaching and playing talent is some way off the professionalism of top teams in the rugby world.

The current national squad has only a handful of players playing professionally.

Another major sporting obstacle stands in Ormaechea's and the team's way - football.

"In Uruguay, the first sport is football," said the former number eight, who won 64 international caps during a 22-year playing career.

"Because of that we don't have very much support over here and that makes it very difficult to build as a sport.

"Add to that our lack of professional players and our amateur coaching staff and already life is pretty tough going into the tournament."

On the field the team have been some way short of the class needed to be truly competitive even at the pool stages.

We will still go out believing we can win any game
Diego Ormaechea

They are on a four-match losing streak, having been defeated by the United States, Canada and Argentina twice, with tougher opposition on the cards.

"It will be very difficult for us to play pool opponents England and South Africa," said Ormaechea. "That is just another level altogether.

"But in the last World Cup in 1999 we took on the Six Nations champions Scotland and the world champions South Africa and we didn't do ourselves any harm.

"I think we did a good job that time around and there's no reason why we can't this time around.

"We're doing all that we can do and hope to beat Georgia and have a good game against Samoa. But going out on the field we will still go out believing we can win any game."

Ormaechea has tried to implement the tactics he employed as a player - going in heavily in the tackle as well as making his presence known in every ruck and maul.

Some of his style of play has led to criticism from opposition teams, who take offence to the heavy-handed style.

But for him the reasoning is simple. "We have to make our impact somehow," he said.

Links to more Uruguay stories


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