Gaminara ‘really proud’ as Uruguay stun Fiji at Rugby World Cup
Uruguay captain Juan Manuel Gaminara fought back the tears as he began to realise the enormity of his team’s shock 30-27 World Cup win over Fiji.
The South American minnows, who were playing their first game of the tournament, condemned the Pacific Islanders to their second defeat in five days to leave their Pool D qualification hopes in tatters.
“I’m really proud of my country,” Gaminara told ITV4. “We’re not the biggest but we came here to win.
“We’ve been preparing for this for four years. We were thinking about this game ever since we qualified. We never had anything for granted, we always had to qualify first and you saw the passion.
“I don’t know where it comes from, it’s inside. In there, we had to go fetch it and it came.”
Uruguay’s thrilling upset was a fitting way to mark the opening of the new Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, which was built as a reminder to the people of the coastal fishing town which was almost wiped off the map by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
Prince Akishino, brother of the Japanese Emperor Naruhito, was in the 16,000-seater stadium to witness Uruguay’s first World Cup win since 2003.
“Thanks to this city,” Gaminara added. “It’s really an amazing story and a real privilege to play here.”
Uruguay scored only two tries in the whole of the 2015 tournament but they had three by half-time in Kamaishi through Santiago Arata, Manuel Diana and Juan Manuel Cat as they put the out-of-sorts Fijians to the sword.
Fiji, including just three players from their 39-21 defeat by the Wallabies, scored two late tries through replacement Nikola Matawalu to secure a losing bonus point but it was scant consolation following a wretched performance.
Fiji coach John McKee said: “First and foremost, I have to congratulate Uruguay on the way that they played today.
“They had a lot of passion and they worked very hard as a team and got what was, for them, a great result.
“For us, obviously with the short turnaround, though it isn’t an excuse, it is a challenge.
“We made too any fundamental errors in the game and Uruguay capitalised on them and were more patient at times and put us under a lot of pressure.”
Fiji actually scored five tries to three but Josh Matavesi and Ben Volavola missed five out of six goal kicks between them, in sharp contrast to Uruguay fly-half Felipe Berchesi, who kicked six from seven including a 75th-minute penalty that put his team two scores in front.
“I was thinking to myself to treat it just like in training, as if the stadium was empty,” Berchesi said.
“I had cramps in my legs so I focused on kicking like I do in training and aiming for the middle, inside the posts. It went through, luckily.
“It’s unreal. We lost 60 points against them in November. It’s outstanding. It’s a really good day for Uruguayan rugby.
“I hope everybody could see that and everybody joins to play rugby in Uruguay. We need more players.
“We’re a really small union but we keep showing the world that we’re in a good place and they have to support us because we’ve proved ourselves strong today.”