The countries of Latin America have long been known, among other things, for some of the world’s best soccer; but soccer is not the only sport that brings large crowds and world recognition. Argentina, nicknamed Los Pumas, has demonstrated in recent years that they have the ability to compete with and beat the higher-ranked teams in international rugby.
Los Pumas have qualified for every World Cup since 1987, their World Cup debut. This year in the Rugby World Cup 2011, Argentina lost to the host nation and World Cup favorites, New Zealand All Blacks. Their run brought them to the quarterfinals, beating Scotland, Romania, and Georgia along the way. It was however, a disappointing end for the team that finished third in the world in 2007.
The marketing power here, while not as big as soccer, is still substantial. Visa, Adidas, ESPN, and Gatorade have all signed on with Los Pumas as official sponsors. Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay also have strong rugby traditions along with Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica. South American Rugby is on its way to becoming a world power, but not yet.