Beautiful Uruguay suffers from the fact that not many people could place it on a map!  Its full name is Republica Oriental del Uruguay and despite being one of the smallest of the South American countries – it has a long history of trading with the UK.  One of the most stable counties politically & economically, it is also rather beautiful from the stunning UNESCO protected town of Colonia del Sacramento to the rolling green fields that are home to their great cattle to the party beach scene at Punta del Este – Uruguay deserves a visit! 

Uruguay have a tough draw in Pool A. Sadly, they are unlikely to get much further than the pool matches as they have New Zealand and France in their Pool, not to mention Italy and the Africa Cup ‘22 winner of Namibia.  But for sheer enthusiasm and passion in the way they play, Los Teros should gain some new fans in the UK. This is all about taking their rugby to the next level for the future, building on their brilliant win against the USA to quality for this years RWC, their fifth tournament, as well as beating Fiji in the last RWC.  

Part of the game plan (as well as always hoping for a shock upset against say France!)  is surely aiming for the third place in their group, which gives them automatic qualification for the next world cup as well as well as possibly achieving a quarter final place this year. Both Italy and Namibia can expect a challenge!

Captain: Andres Vilaseca

Player to Watch: Tomas Inciarte

For more information on Uruguay Rugby www.uru.org.uy

For full details of the Rugby World Cup 2015  follow : www.rugbyworldcup.com/

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching the Los Teros

Food: Unsurprisingly for a country where cattle outnumber people four to one, beef is big on menus in Uruguay. And having enjoyed many an Asado (BBQ) in Uruguay, I can vouch for the quality of the meat. Unlike many other countries, Uruguayan cattle are still mostly naturally grass fed and even more impressive is their complete traceability system to which 100% of their beef is subject, impressive in these days of food labelling issues. The Parrillero will be a wood fire BBQ with a rack set up similar to an instrument of medieval torture, where the rack can be winched up and down according to the heat required.  A real Uruguayan Asado will not only include the usual cuts of beef but also delicious chorizo, black pudding, sweetbreads and chitterlings (if you don’t know what the last are, if I were you, I would not ask!). To lay your hands on some authentic Uruguayan beef – www.tomhixson.co.uk

Similar to Argentina, having an influx in the 19th century of Italian & Spanish immigrants, mean that other principal dishes in Uruguay take their inspiration from these two old world countries.  Pasta and gnocchi feature a lot (albeit spelt rather differently – Noquis!) so much so that the 29th of every month is Noquis day in Uruguay! For easy match day nibbles,  take a pack of  potato gnocchi (look in the fresh pasta section) pan fry  with a drizzle of olive oil for 8 minutes till golden  (stirring once) or bake them at 190 degrees with a little olive oil for 20 minutes turn once. Serve as they are sprinkled with good sea salt (I like the smoked salt from www.cornishseasalt.co.uk ) or with a dip.

The other perfect match day food is Empanadas – beer in one hand, Empanada in the other – perfect! Think something along the lines of a Cornish pastry, the dough is different but you can use puff pastry as a cheat if short on time. Fillings are traditionally meat, hard -boiled egg and lots of juicy onions.  Most of them come designed with giants in mind – but if you want to make it more elegant, make canapé sized ones stuffed with cheese instead. Order direct from www.chango.co.uk  (free delivery) – and they freeze really well.

Pancho is a Uruguayan Hotdog (served in a pan de vien bread roll, soft and slightly sweetened) – so could also work on match day – though I would be tempted to upgrade the frankfurter for a more serious sausage! But many locals think it’s more about the toppings and slather with a mixture of mustard, sweetcorn, cheese, onions and salsa gold (basically mayo & ketchup mixed!) – or try the local sandwich – a chivito! An awesome sarnie of grilled beef, cheese, tomato, mayonnaise, boiled egg (sharing is recommended!)

Or for a coastal snack – try making homemade seaweed fritters – Buneuelos de algas – perfect with the Viognier below! Or if you can find some online, do look out for the sustainably produced Caviar from Sturgeon grown in the Rio Negro River. 

By the way, for those old enough to remember pies in tins (do they still exist?)  did you know that Fray Bentos is an actual place – in Uruguay! And today is on the UNESCO World heritage List!


Mate: The national drink of Uruguay is Mate. Made from the dried Yerba Mate plant, it is infused with boiling water.  Taste wise, think a rather particular tasting tisane. The locals walk around everywhere (park benches to the beach!)  sipping it through silver straws out of small gourds, and it is a sign of friendship to be offered to share Mate. Caffeine rich it could be a good one for the designated drivers!

Beer: Not easy to find in the UK but do look out for Zillertal or even the slightly oddly named Patricia –try through the online specialist beer shops.

Wine:  Uruguay is not somewhere that registers on most people’s wine radar when looking for a country from which to drink wine. But their wines are produced by family run estates and sadly they do not export that much to the UK as their production is limited. Thankfully we do see some wines from a few of the leading estates – Juanico and Pisano and they are worth hunting out as are Bodega Garzon and Bouza. Their flagship grape variety is Tannat, a blockbuster of a grape variety, which originated from the Basque region South-West France, from where many of the Uruguayan families emigrated. But it can be very versatile as well producing everything from deep coloured, heavy reds through to Sparkling wines. But other varieties have equally found a happy home in the vineyards of Uruguay including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Marselan.

One of the best places to source Uruguay wines is from the knowledgeable Carla Bertellotti at www.winesofuruguay.co.uk – a great range of whites, reds, sparkling and more. There are lots of small estates that she brings in as well as the more famous names – and she would be happy to arrange a mixed case for you – from aromatic whites through to slightly hipster style Pet Nat – with all the classics in between!

For whites, if you like peachy aromas of Viognier, then try the good value Bodegones del Sur Viognier from Juanico (available as above).

Also on her list, under the same label Bodegones del Sur, for a slightly quirky red – their Cabernet Franc Special Edition is perfect for spicy chorizo and empanadas. Tempting freshness from the Atlantic breeze but backed up with dark brooding fruit! 

Staying with more typical grape varieties – Pisano Progreso Tannat Reserve. Lovely brambles note with freshness, a great price – value ratio at under a tenner, this Tannat from one of the loveliest families in the Wine World – Pisano, and made in association with & available from the www.thewinesociety.com

Gran Bodegon. One of Juanico’s flagship wines, this never fails to impress at every outing. A blend of mainly Tannat but also Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Marselan creates a smooth, but powerful complex wine with no rough edges and in perfect harmony. Worth every penny of its £29 price tag.  With peppered steak it works fantastically.  Available at The Wine Society as above.

Pisano Axis Mundi Tannat is a wine to be savoured. Made only three times when vintage conditions were perfect, its hugely powerful, but with 30 mons in barrels, the elegance shows through.  At £49 from the Wine Society as above, this is a wine for celebrating a Uruguay victory! Available at The Wine Society as above.