Whilst Argentina might be the better known South American team for Rugby, Chile’s route in qualifying for the 2023 RWC in France has been incredible. In particular, in two amazing matches in which Los Condores defeated both Canada and the USA – which showed incredible passion, pace & flair. Backed up by some brilliant coaching from Pablo Lemoine, whose ability to read & react to the action on the pitch, but also read the opposing team, has been instrumental in Chile’s meteoric rise.  Head coach Lemoine, a Uruguayan who played in two RWC for his home country before coaching that national squad. With Chile, he has encouraged an ambitious, open attacking style of play. Interestingly, from his initial squad of 46 for training, before final selection, every player in the squad was Chilean. 

In their Pool, Chile face England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa – which based on their qualifying matches, not one of those teams should be resting easy. It will also be a great moment for South America as Chile will face Argentina in the pool – the first ever all South American RWC match. Regardless, if you support Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil or Paraguay – this is great news for emerging rugby on that continent and for the wider rugby family.

One of the noticeable aspects of the Chilean team through the qualifiers, was the cohesion within the team, who all play together on a regular basis (many for Selknam team) – a focus on getting results by playing as a team rather than relying on the talent of individual players to carry them through. The work rate, especially around the try line is phenomenal. 


Captain: Martin Sigren 

Player to Watch: Santiago Videla (go seek out the clip on You Tube of his kick that put them in the lead against the USA in qualifying!)

For more information on Chilean Rugby:

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What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Chile


Ideal match day food is Empanada de Pino – beer or wine in one hand, Empanada in the other – perfect! Think something along the lines of a Cornish pastry – Fillings are traditionally beef, hard -boiled egg, raisins, olives and lots of juicy onions but of course everyone’s Grandmother has the best recipe!   Most of them come designed with props in mind – but if you want to make it more elegant, make canapé sized ones stuffed with cheese instead. Order direct from  (free delivery) or if you fancy making them at home,  there is an excellent recipe online

Another great one for feeding a crowd at half time is pastel de choclo. Sort of a South American riff on a cottage pie, but topped with sweetcorn, it is considered by many to be Chile’s national dish. There is a good recipe online from Raul Diaz, a Chilean Sommelier. 

There is hot competition in South America as to who does the best BBQ’s – and having enjoyed many asado in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, I’m not putting my head above the parapet of diplomatic chaos. But if the weather is fine for a pre match BBQ, then Chilean style with lots of beef. Morcilla (black pudding), chicken, sausage, chorizo…. 

 A completo the Chilean street version of a Hot Dog topped with a host of stuff including mayo, onions, mustard, ketchup and smashed avocado (all at the same time!)- though I’ve ever been totally convinced, the profusion of Completo stalls in Chile’s Capital Santiago, means I’m in the minority!

Sopaipillas are made of a simple dough of squash, flour & salt. Deep fried to golden small thick pancakes –one is never enough. Can be topped with Pebre sauce (coriander, onion, pepper & tomato). Recipe on


Beer:  Look out for Austral – either the regular pale Lager or their Austral Calafate (fermented with Calafate berries in Patagonia). Two big brands are Cristal or Escudo – again both pale lagers. If you are looking for a Craft Ale, seek out Kunstmann, a brewery with German influences in Valdivia. 


I’ve been lucky enough to plan & escort wine tours to Chile for over a quarter of a century – and over those 23 tours to the vineyards, it been fascinating to see the rapid expansion & diversification of the Chilean wine trade. From the traditional handful of regions, mostly close to the capital Santiago, the vineyards have now expanded from the very north to deep in the South of this long, elongated country (2653 miles long). Grapes for wine production (not just for distillation – see Pisco below) are now planted in the Northerly Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, down to Chiloe, a small island in Patagonia – where its so cold, they have penguins!

A crowd pleaser for a party is Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, from their Coastal vineyards giving a freshness to the wines. Available

Tara is a project by Vina Ventiqueo, where the vines are planted in the South of the arid Atacama Desert. The white, from Chardonnay is a unique style of wine, really reflecting a sense of terroir – there is a nervy vibrancy, linear acidity, and yet underlying salinity. A great wine, not the price tag of every day at £33 but if it’s on a wine list, I simply must order it – it is that intriguing.   If Chile make it through the pool matches – this is the wine to celebrate with! Available

Am aware that there will be a huge range of rugby fans reading this – some who want an easy quaffer and some seeking out more interesting wines. So, I hesitated before mentioning the next one: It’s a Bag in Box Red from Waitrose – simply called Soft, Red and Juicy and it’s a blend of Merlot, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. At £14.95 (equivalent to £4.99 a bottle) , its never going to be a wine to write tasting notes about, but if you’ve a hard drinking crowd in for the match – it will do exactly as it says on the label!

Staying with the good value option – from brilliant producers, Cono Sur, try their Bicicleta Pinot Noir will be a great match (no pun intended) for lighter red to enjoy with the Empanada.  Just £5.99 on mix six deal from

Staying with the same producer and same grape variety, if you’re looking for something more serious – get your hands on a bottle of Ocio Pinot Noir from Cono Sur. Their icon celebration of this fickle grape variety, it’s a wine to relax with and have patience with time in the glass. £60 from

Although there are vast swathes of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in Chile, and Carmenere had the reputation of the red flagship variety for Chile for many years, Syrah is one variety that is producing some great world class wines. One of the original Icon wines to look out for is Montes Folly Syrah – with the beautiful label designed by Ralph Steadman. Worth it’s £50 plus price tag (available – but do look out for the wide range from Montes (, reliable and delicious across the range from great value entry level through to their Alpha Chardonnay and quirky Outer Limits label. Many of them are stocked by indie wine merchant

National Drink:  Pisco – or more precisely Pisco Sour, the signature cocktail that celebrates this Chilean Brandy. Although there is much discussion between Peru & Chile about who makes the best version, it appears that it arrived from Peru into Chile in 1872 via an Englishman! Pisco aficionados, will endlessly discuss the merits of each brand of Pisco with the same intensity of Whisky lovers – but here in the UK, there are a small number of Piscos available – best place for range (currently listing 20 styles of Pisco) is

For more information about Chilean Wine –