Uruguay gear towards Rio from USA Sevens
For Uruguay, this weekend's USA Sevens in Las Vegas is an important stepping stone in their bid to qualify as the 24th and final team for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
As the only non-core side competing in the fifth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Uruguay's assistant coach and team manager believes his side will learn a lot from the experience in Las Vegas as they prepare for the final RWC Sevens qualifier in Rio de Janeiro on 23-24 February.
"For our team it is an honour to play in this tournament," said Francisco Vilaboa.
"It is elite rugby, and to be part of it is great. The level of this tournament means it is our biggest challenge, but we are taking it as preparation for the qualifier in Rio as it's our objective to qualify for Moscow."
As current South American Sevens champions, Uruguay will be favourites to claim the final place at this year's RWC Sevens in Russia's capital of Moscow.
But Vilaboa will not be taking anything for granted as his side aim to reach a third successive RWC Sevens having competed at the 2005 and 2009 tournaments in Hong Kong and Dubai respectively.
"In level, this is our biggest tournament yet. But we have other tournaments in South America that are important because we meet our rivals Brazil, Chile, Paraguay.
"They are important to understand where we are. We are the South American champions but we can't think like that. We know qualifying will be difficult, all our matches against our rivals are always competitive, so Rio will be hard.
"I think we are in good shape, but we have to go to Rio at the end of February in the best shape possible."
Uruguay played in USA last year and despite losing all of their five matches were competitive throughout, only losing 21-19 to France.
Learning from Tietjens
This year they face matches with Wellington Sevens runners-up Kenya, who they have beaten twice in four encouters, South Africa and Canada in Pool C, but it is not just the players who benefit from the tournament experience.
"It's a big question what we learn. There is so much on and off the field," added Vilaboa.
"Every team is very organised, so we have to work on ours as that is key. I was at the manager's meeting and the game is improving every day. We need to learn how to play at this level, it is higher, and it is difficult.
"But it is an honour for me too. To be in the same meeting as Gordon Tietjens, to speak with Tiki, the Spain coach, or the Argentina coach, for me it is a great experience.
"Seeing their movements, the way they train, I will try to see all I can in these few days to learn as much as possible from the best."
Uruguay will field hand four players World Series debuts this weekend, Juan Diego Ormachea, Santigo Bomio, Alfonso Falco and Gaston Gibernau,
Uruguay squad for Las Vegas: Juan Diego Ormaechea, Santigo Bomio, Alfonso Falcon, Agustin Ormaechea, Gabriel Puig, Felipe Berchesi, Federico Favaro, Gaston Gibernau, Santiago Gibernau, Ian Schmidt, Guillermo Lijtenstein, Rodrigo Martinez
Will Uruguay qualify for the RWC Sevens in Moscow?
8-10 February 2013
Venue: Sam Boyd Stadium
City: Las Vegas