The national franchise makes its Super Rugby Americas debut today, a tournament that replaces SLAR. To be ready, they carried out an arduous preparation for four weeks, including a special day at the Military School.
It is ten o’clock in the morning on February 7 and two situations arise inside the Military School, in Las Condes. The first is a dense gray layer that covers the sky, the product of the mixture between the usual smog that occurs in the capital and the arrival of the smoke generated by the massive forest fires that attack the central-southern zone of the country. . The second, a group of more than 40 people running, jumping and sharing on the main court of the hall . They are strangers to these four walls, but not strangers. And it is that the national militia is getting closer and closer to its relationship with Chilean rugby.
This time it’s Selknam’s turn. The national franchise is immersed in a tough pre-season before the start of Super Rugby Americas. A tournament that replaces the SLAR and brings together the best teams in South America and the American Raptors from the United States. In fact, that’s why they’re at school this hot summer morning.
After three weeks of pre-season at Parque Mahuida in La Reina, the team decided to train somewhere closer to town and invite the fans. The beginnings were just around the corner (They are playing today at 6 p.m. at La Pintan a) and they wanted to have more visibility. That, and the great relationship they have with the Armed Forces (last year the National Team had a weekend as Marines), prompted this shift in pattern.
And there, between the trumpets sounding from the roofs and the groups of students parading against the opaque sky, Selknam relived a day of wear and tear. They differed from uniforms in clothing and physique. But it was inevitable not to tell them due to dedication and discipline. It was very difficult to see them claiming or avoiding work. Everyone was there to reach the limit, always thinking that each tackle made or each run in the grass brings them a little closer to the big goal of 2023: to reach the world XV in the best possible way. And it is that the same trainer of Selknam says it. “We decided it shouldn’t be taboo, they talk about the World Cup, they talk about goals. We prepare them for it , but always letting them know that there won’t be another goal, if they don’t reach the first one, which is Selknam. We talk about distance, but knowing that what is close is what brings me closer to France,” admits Nicolás Bruzzone.
That’s why the pre-season was demanding. Selknam is fully aligned with the Cóndores and both seek the development of Chilean rugby, so they know this franchise tournament is also a setup for France. Even for this year it has been decided to only play with local rugby players and no longer hire foreigners . Something that had not happened in the three previous editions. “In 2020, we recruited foreigners to give our players a context for growth. For 2021, we reduced this number and searched for the positions we had. Already last year we were very precise and took people where we really needed them spin first. Now what the program had to do, especially with the qualification for the World Cup, was to develop our players and give them as much competition as possible”, comments Pablo Lemoine, the team coach, also present in training. From the stands he watched all day . Initial warm-ups, tactical games and a three-half match between the players.
One of the protagonists of the day was Matías Garafulic. At 22, he was cast as one of the franchise’s new captains, showing that his early outburst makes him a key player in the project today. “It was our shortest pre-season, so you can imagine how intense it was. We are looking for a much smoother game, this is what has been worked on the most . Moreover with a lot of motivation because we are 40 players and there are only 33 places for France. We know that these jerseys have no first or last name, so we give the best of us every day”, admits the center of 1.84 meters.
Something that complements Bruzzone. “Unlike other teams, we don’t have warm-up games, we didn’t even want to set the goal, because what interests us is to keep this anxiety and this motivation to be on the ground to build the technical and tactical part through the physical part throughout the tournament “, Explain.
After almost three hours of training, the players finally finish their work. Everyone is exhausted, overwhelmed with work and the conditions of a city not conducive to exercise. But there are no bad faces. There are even laughs and autographs for a dozen fans who went to watch them prepare for their Super Rugby Americas debut. Many of them will also be at the La Pintana municipal stadium today. The memory of the trumpets, the sun and the groups of students parading in the interior courtyards too.
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I am Robert Harris and I specialize in news media. My experience has been focused on sports journalism, particularly within the Rugby sector. I have written for various news websites in the past and currently work as an author for Athletistic, covering all things related to Rugby news. With a passion for storytelling, I have also worked behind the scenes of various radio programs and podcasts as a researcher.