Debut to remember for Olympic hosts Brazil

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 26 March 2013
 Debut to remember for Olympic hosts Brazil
Lucas Duche scored five tries for Brazil in four matches - Photo: IRB/Martin Seras Lima

In 2016 Rio de Janeiro will host Rugby Sevens' debut at the Olympic Games and at the weekend the Brazil men's Sevens side showed that, perhaps as a direct result, there is a new energy for the sport in their country.

Brazil impressed in action at the 2013 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, their maiden trip to Asia's showpiece event where they competed in the pre-qualifier for World Series core team status.

The South Americans were one win away from heading to London in May but came up just short in front of 40,000 fans.

In their four matches across the three days, Brazil narrowly lost to the more favoured Japanese 17-10, before drawing with Georgia and defeating fellow debutants Jamaica to qualify for the quarter finals second in their pool.

Despite losing to Zimbabwe, the eventual winners, 21-7 in the quarter finals, their captain Fernando Portugal is hoping their performances will have raised some eyebrows back home.

"We say that we kill a lion every single day to play rugby for Brazil," Portugal told the South China Morning Post after his team showed that type of fighting spirit in the 17-10 defeat to this weekend's hosts of round seven on the HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo.

"They say we are kind of crazy. No one in Brazil knows a lot about rugby. The game is still growing but our passion is contagious among the Brazilian people and we think in the next few years they will support us more and more."

2016 and beyond

The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will certainly help, but the mood within the camp is that 2016 will only be the beginning for Brazilian Sevens and they are looking further into the future.

With such a small talent pool to draw on - Brazil has around 10,000 registered players across all levels of rugby - assistant coach Mauricio Coelho said they have a target of 50,000 players in the next few years.

With the aid of New Zealand's Crusaders organisation, which has seen the likes of Dallas Seymore and now current coach Chris Neill developing and coaching the Brazilian players, the mindset is also clearly changing.

"In the next few years our reality will change a little," Portugal continued.

"We need a higher level of competition. We can't improve just playing in Brazil and playing South American teams.

"We need to do everything we can to get involved in the [sevens] circuit and to develop the level of our game.

"We still need to split between 15s and sevens which is very complicated for us physically. But we are training a lot to prepare a very good team for the Olympics."

Pre-qualifier final day highlights

Hong Kong Sevens

Round 6
27-29 March 2015
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
City: Hong Kong
Capacity: 40,000

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D
  • DJ Forbes, NZ
  • Tom Mitchell of England
  • NZ win HK Sevens