In October 1972 the Uruguayan Old Christians Rugby Club was flying to Chile to play a friendly match. They crashed in the middle of the Andes but survived in a brutal environment for a human being.
Nando Parrado is one of the survivors of this tragedy. His mother and his 17-year-old sister, fans of the team, were on the plane and died during the crash.
They lived with no food no water nor appropriate clothes inside a fuselage up in the Andes for two and a half months. They were later hit by an avalanche that took the lives of many of his teammates.
The world thought they were dead. But as a team they fought for their lives and survived. Why did he survive instead of some of his friends? He doesn't know. But what he does know is that they survived because of rugby.
Nando, why is the Miracle of the Andes a rugby story?
"The truth is that we wouldn't have made it in the middle of the freezing Andes if we weren't a trained rugby team and if we didn't know about the leadership and the spirit of rugby. Rugby saved our lives. The humility of rugby and the transfer of leadership were very important.
"When the captain of the team died, some us had to become the new leaders of the group. The same happens in the field during a rugby match… when the captain gets injured someone else on the team becomes the captain. I have no doubt that we survived because of rugby. We were all embraced by its spirit."
On September 30th, during the World Cup, the 'Win Rugby World Conferences' will take place in London's legendary Barbican Hall. Parrado will be one of the guest speakers at this amazing event along with some rugby stars such as Clive Woodward, Graham Henry, Brett Gosper, Max Guazzini, and Agustín Pichot.
What are your expectations for the Win Rugby World Conferences?
"I look forward to this event with a lot of enthusiasm. Not only because of what it means to me but also because of what the Win Rugby World Conferences means to rugby.
"It is really an honour to be invited to speak along with rugby legends in a unique context: during a World Cup and at the Barbican Hall. It is the first time that I will speak to an audience that knows what rugby truly is.
"When I speak at conferences in the United States many people do not understand why I say that rugby is not the same that American football or basketball or baseball. Someone who hasn't played rugby, who hasn't belonged to a rugby team, who hasn't had a rugby third half can know what rugby truly is. Rugby is the only sport in the world in which the player doesn't have his name on the back of the jersey. Everyone has a number and no one is more than the rest. And that speaks for itself.
"Also, for me, it will be a great opportunity to honour my teammates that didn't come back from the Andes. They were better than us. Why we got to come back? I have no idea but the leaders, the captain, and the best players didn't come back. This is why I think it will be a wonderful moment to pay respect to a bunch of rugby players that the world never got to know."
Getting to know Nando Parrado is an amazing opportunity for those who will be around London during the World Cup because his story cannot be missed. The Win Rugby World Conferences cannot be missed.