From The Vaults

06 September 2021
#FromTheVaults - Uruguay Pennant Flag

It's been a while, but we're back with our #FromTheVaults series, taking a look into our archives to explore some of the many thousands of objects that are not on display in the World Rugby Museum galleries.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of the foundation of Montevideo Cricket Club in Uruguay, so we have decided to highlight this Uruguay pennant flag as our object of the month.

The Montevideo Cricket Club (MVCC) was founded on 18th July 1861. Rugby was introduced to many South American countries through cricket clubs - such as the MVCC - that were set up by British immigrants. The MVCC members seem to have begun playing rugby between themselves in the mid-1860s, and they sometimes found new opposition players amongst visitors aboard British merchant and navy ships when they docked in the region.

The earliest recorded match between a Uruguayan team and British MVCC members took place in 1880. One spectator described the sight as: "... sublime and ridiculous... on all sides [were] people strangely dressed who ran and shouted, pushed, fell, rose and finished by joining to form now a circle, now a pyramid, now a compact mass in which one could only distinguish heads without shoulders, legs without bodies and hands without arms."

Over time the popularity of the sport grew and in 1950 a Uruguayan championship was introduced - the Campeonato Uruguayo de Rugby. The success of the inaugural club championship led to the founding of a Uruguayan governing body for rugby union in 1951 - the Unión de Rugby del Uruguay - referenced by the U.R.U. abbreviation seen on the pennant flag. Uruguay played their first international match against Chile in 1948, a win for Chile, 21-3. However, Uruguay defeated Chile at their next encounter and thus finished as runners up in the first South American Rugby Championship which was played alongside the first Pan American Games. Today, the Uruguayan national team is ranked 17th by World Rugby.

The national rugby team is known as Los Teros, a name for the southern lapwing, the national bird. The southern lapwing is a crested wading bird found across South America and it is particularly common in the Río de la Plata basin, which encompasses much of Uruguay. It appears on the team's jerseys and also on the pennant flag. The light blue fabric of the flag is consistent with the team's blue and white kit colours, which reference the stripes on the national flag.