Colombia ready to challenge the Netherlands for a place in WXV 3

New-look Las Tucanes happy with preparations as they attempt to upset the odds and beat higher-ranked opponents this Saturday.

With a 13-place gap between themselves and the Netherlands in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, it’s fair to say Colombia will be underdogs when the two teams meet in Amsterdam on Saturday.

Las Tucanes finished bottom of the WXV 3 standings in Dubai last October, thrusting them into a play-off against the Netherlands, the highest nation in the women’s rankings that didn’t compete in the inaugural edition of World Rugby’s annual global 15s competition.

Analysis of the Netherlands’ progress in the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship has given Colombia a clear idea of the challenge that awaits them at the National Rugby Centre Stadium, but they are still confident they can win and become the first team to confirm their place in WXV 3 2024.

“We know their game structure,” said Las Tucanes’ new head coach Luis Pedro Achard.

“They have a very strong team, especially their forwards, and they are committed to playing a hard style of rugby, mostly with nine players. This style has brought them results.

"The battle will be in the forwards. Our challenge will be to be able to fight them with them upfront and then launch our backs.

New high on the cards

“The Netherlands are favourites, they are higher in the rankings as they have more and better competition, but we have high expectations and the girls are convinced they can win after the work we have been doing.”

Victory on Saturday would lift Colombia at least two places in the rankings as well as providing WXV 3 qualification. In such a scenario, Las Tucanes are guaranteed to move up to 26th from 28th while they will climb to a new high of 24th if the win is secured by more than 15 points.

The Netherlands, who start the weekend in 15th, cannot improve their rating due to the gap between the teams in the rankings but would lose two or three places in defeat, depending on the margin.

Colombia have been in Amsterdam since Sunday, after a fruitful stop in Madrid, where their preparations included a warm-up game against the Complutense Cisneros, which they won 46-7.

“Saturday's game helped a lot; first for climate acclimatisation,” Achard explained. “The second half was played under a hailstorm.

“The match helped us to move the team around, rotate the girls, give them match action. It helped our goals.”

More opportunities

Uruguayan Achard wasn’t in charge when Colombia finished last of six teams in the standings at the inaugural edition of WXV 3 in Dubai, but he understands the importance of making sure they get back there again this year.

“Winning on Saturday will give us more opportunities,” he said.

“Advancing to WXV will undoubtedly give us more quality competition – for that we have to win. Colombia had that competition, and they lost their place and now we have to win it back.”

The squad that lost to Fiji, Ireland and Kenya in Dubai last year has been boosted by the return of Leidy Soto as well as several new players and a new coach. Nikol Durango, Ana Camacho and Sofía Hincapié could each make their debut in Amsterdam.

Colombia should be stronger given Achard has a wider pool of players to pick from because, unlike last year, their programme does not clash with the Pan American Games.

Achard is happy with where the team is ahead of the crucial game. “We're ok. We know it will be hard. If we know how to play tactically and we execute things, we will be fine.”

Saturday’s game marks the start of an important year for Colombian women’s rugby because not only is their future in WXV 3 at stake but, in June, they face a one-off game against Brazil to decide which of the teams qualifies for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025.

Last updated: Mar 14, 2024, 1:55:14 PM
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