Rugby World Cup 1999
Uruguay record first World Cup win
October 2, 1999
Alfonso Cardoso breaks clear of the Spain defence to score
© Getty Images
Uruguay recorded their first ever victory in the World Cup finals as the South Americans beat Spain 27-15 in the 'battle of the amateurs' Pool A match at Galashiels. Two late breakaway tries by fullback Alfonso Cardoso and substitute Juan Mancheca sealed the win in a tight match against an enterprising but lightweight Spanish side.
Cardoso raced 50 metres down the left flank to score in the corner two minutes from time and moments later Mancheca, in his first touch of the match, made a brilliant interception to score in the other corner.
With South Africa and Scotland making up the other two teams in the group, this match - the 100th in the history of the World Cup pool fixtures - provided the only realistic chance of victory for both teams.
Uruguay, favourites to win after beating Spain 20-3 in a recent warm-up match in Italy, started slowly but led 10-6 at the interval thanks to a try from Diego Ormaechea, the oldest player in the World Cup at 40.
The veteran number eight, winning his 62nd cap, went over from close range near the posts providing Federico Sciarra with an easy conversion. Ukranian-born fly-half Andrei Kovalenco kept Spain in contention with two first half penalties before putting them in front with two more in the 49th and 51st minutes.
But Uruguay, one of only two sides along with Argentina to field entirely home born-and-bred players, laid siege to the Spanish line and regained the lead fifteen minutes from time.
English referee Chris White awarded a penalty try for persistent foul play after eight scrums collapsed on the Spanish line. Diego Aguirre converted to put Uruguay 17-12 ahead but moments later Kovalenco, a translator by trade, struck his fifth penalty to close the gap to two points before the late tries ended their hopes of a surprise win.