Uruguay Rugby League’s Head of Football Adam Wright has been a first hand witness to the evolving and progression of the Uruguayan national team.
When given the opportunity to be apart of their setup, Wright did not hesitate and got stuck into the role.
“My current position at Uruguay Rugby League is as Head of Football. How this came about was that the Uruguay Invitational 13 was playing an International in Brisbane against Columbia. Angel Morrison, the current Uruguayan captain plays his club football at the Wests Mitchelton Panthers, where I coach. He contacted me after the coach they had organised pulled out due to work commitments and asked if I was interested in coaching. I jumped at the chance to be involved.” Wright told Everything Rugby League.
“It was challenging because we had no training sessions and I met most of the players on game day. We lost 46-20 but there where plenty of positives to build on.
“Later in the year, the Uruguayan rugby league committee met, and I was offered the position. I have an assistant coach in Steven Clarke, who has only just finished playing. He was close to our best player against Columbia and has a lot of pride in his heritage. He will run the training sessions in Sydney, under my direction.
“When we play an international in Sydney, I will probably arrive the day before for the captains run. I’m looking forward to having more say in selection and watching some of the young Uruguayan talent coming through.
“I’ve talked to the Latin Heat God father, Rob Burgin, to get feedback on some young guys of Uruguayan heritage that played for the Latin under 19s side.”
If Uruguay are going to try and reach bigger heights then they must do so with a contingent of their squad being made up of home grown talent, which is why Wright and the committee are in the very early stages of planning development pathways for Uruguayan athletes in the years to come.
“It has been discussed briefly ,for the long term development of the game we need that to happen.
“You can’t field teams full of Heritage players forever. Eventually you want a side with a good mix of heritage and local players. This is a long long term goal because Uruguayan Rugby League is only in its infancy.”
The International Rugby League rankings currently have Uruguay sitting 47th, which is something that Wright is confident will change.
“I have no doubt that Uruguay can climb higher then 47th in the world rankings, especially as their talent pool increases.”
When looking towards the relatively near future, Uruguay have some very attainable aspirations, however Wright understands that these will only come to fruition if everyone pulls their weight.
“I think the goal for Uruguay has to be to play at least 2 internationals or more a year when everything returns to normal. It’s probably a better option to play these games in Sydney, as most of the players and committee members are based there and it’s easier for the Brisbane boys to go to them.
“In the next few years it would great to see Uruguay Rugby League enter a side at the Cabramatta 9s.
“All these things I’m suggesting will come down to the commitment of the players,so we need to create a good environment and culture in the team, so players want to commit to playing.”
Like any other Rugby League nation, Uruguay have Rugby League World Cup aspirations.
Wright believes the emerging nation is still a fair way off making the tournament, however given the time to grow, Uruguay could be contending for a spot in the World Cup in under two decades from now.
“The World Cup is the ultimate dream for emerging nations, look at Jamaica qualifying for 2021 or the USA Hawks in 2013. To even make the qualifiers you need the best players available and committed to playing. They both went through a lot of tough times development wise, and USA have gone backwards since then.
“Uruguay have to keep taking small steps in the right direction, like expanding the player pool and developing local players and coaches. It’s hard to put a time frame on that sort of thing. In saying that I could see Uruguay competing at the Emerging Nations World Cup at some point in time, if everything went well in development and growth of the game, Uruguay could be playing World Cup qualifiers in 12 -16 years.”
To keep an emerging National team afloat it’s important to have the right people behind the scenes as well as on the field.
It’s these people that Wright believe have gotten the nation to where they are today, with bigger things planned for the future.
“Just want to give a big rap to Adam Kungl, Angel Morrison, Steve Clarke, Johnny Mazzeo and the rest of committee. Every one is doing a great job getting Uruguay Rugby League off the ground, they have few things In the pipeline to keep growing the brand of Uruguay Rugby League. There’s good things coming.”