Star of Uruguay rugby Santiago Arata has come a long way since he first put on a pair of rugby boots for an amateur side in his home city of Montevideo

Santiago Arata has not had the ideal preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. In July, the irrepressible star of Uruguayan rugby suffered a broken finger that required surgery.

However, Los Teros were quick to point out in a statement that their firebrand scrum-half would be fit to play a full part in the tournament in France and he was duly picked to start against the hosts.

Read more: Uruguay Rugby World Cup squad 2023

Arata will have a chance to shine in the World Cup. Uruguay are drawn in Pool A, alongside New Zealand, France, Namibia and Italy. 

It will be a tough job, but if any player can shine in that company, it’s the little Uruguay scrum-half with the never-say-die game.

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Ten things you need to know about Santiago Arata

1. Santiago Arata Perrone was born on September 2, 1996, in Uruguay capital Montevideo.

2. He took his first steps in rugby with the Old Christians Club in his home city, before joining US-based Major League Rugby side Houston SaberCats in 2019.

3. A year later Arata returned to Uruguay to join Peñarol in the new Súperliga Americana de Rugby tournament (now rebranded as Súper Rugby Américas). He only played one match before the Covid-19 pandemic ended the season – and his short stay at the club.

4. Santiago Arata was an international before he was a professional. He played in the second-tier World Rugby U20 Trophy tournaments in 2015 and 2016, and made his senior debut against Canada on February 6, 2016.

5. In 2018, he helped Uruguay win a two-leg play-off against Canada to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. There, he would light up the tournament with a 40m try in an upset win over Fiji.

6. Santiago Arata joined Top 14 side Castres Olympique in 2020 – the French club of Uruguay and Castres legend Rodrigo Capo Ortega. He originally signed a two-year deal, but extended his stay at the club to 2024 at the end of his first year.

7. He rapidly became a cult favourite at Castres. He overtook long-time starting scrum-half Rory Kockott in the pecking order before the latter’s abortive retirement into coaching and later temporary switch to Stade Francais as. 2023 World Cup joker. When available, Arata is now first-choice scrum-half at the club, ahead of Jeremy Fernandez.

8. By the end of the 2022-23 season, Arata had scored seven tries in 59 matches for Castres, including 33 as a starter, and 71 points in 45 internationals for Uruguay ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

9. He has publicly cited Antoine Dupont – another player who was, for a while, understudy to Kockott – as an example he follows closely. “I watch all his matches to analyse them,” he told Rugbyrama in 2022. But he quickly rejected any comparisons. “It makes me smile when people compare me to him, but he is on another planet.”

10. However, he has made such an impact that reports suggest Toulouse are looking to him as cover for Dupont’s possible sabbatical in 2024-25. He is out of contract with Castres at the end of next season, and has so far rejected any extension offers. 

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