AFTER Chile and El Salvador’s participation in the recent International Rugby League Nines in Sydney, the question is which Latin American nation is next?
Supported by the GYG Latin Heat, both Chile and El Salvador became the first Latino countries to play as a stand-alone entities since Argentina staged a two-match series in March 2005.
Chile adopted the nickname the Caciques (Chiefs), while El Salvador played as El Trueno Azul (Blue Thunder).
A similarly tight game followed against Niue, where again the game was in the balance at 24-18 in the final minute before the Pacific Islanders scored a converted try.
Rounding out the matches for the Caciques was a tough hit-out against well-drilled Australian side Cabramatta, which saw a 30-12 loss.
El Salvador fielded almost 10 new players in the qualifying rounds and it was a disjointed start that saw them lose 20-10 to a similarly-skilled Thailand.
There was much improvement in the second match, with a 24-10 loss to a much bigger Niue side pleasing despite the outcome.
While there were no wins on paper for either Latino side it was a gutsy and encouraging start to their international rugby league careers and saw many new families and players introduced to the Latin Heat program.
El Salvador’s participation could not have been possible without the strong support of sponsors Majestic Property Maintenance and Cabramatta Ink Tattoo Studio and Latin American Rugby League expresses its greatest thanks to both.
Similarly, the support of Guzman y Gomez and S.H.I.E.L.D Security for the entire Latin Heat organisation was pivotal in both countries being able to participate.
Focus now switches to encouraging domestic competitions on Latin American soil, with Mexico already playing tournaments in 2015, Brazil in the process of organising theirs and numerous other nations entering discussions.
At this point in the expansion of rugby league throughout Latin America, the backing of rugby league officials, fellow fans, sponsors and government officials is vital.
You can help support the efforts through purchasing merchandise (including Chilean and Salvadorean jerseys) at the Latin Heat Online Shop or through emailing Robert@sambatimes.com with your suggestions or offers of assistance.
The combined Latin American Heat (comprised of 24 Central and South American nations combined) is considering a handful of offers at present, including featuring as the curtain-raiser to Cook Islands v South Africa on May 2 in Sydney.